A barrister representing prominent republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy has told the Court of Appeal his client had nothing to do with cattle farming.
Murphy is appealing against conviction for evading tax on profits from a farming business.
The 67-year-old, whose farm at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, straddles the border with Northern Ireland, had pleaded not guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court to nine charges of failing to comply with tax laws in the for the years 1996/97 to 2004.
The three-judge Special Criminal Court found Murphy guilty on all counts and he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on 26 February last.
Murphy's barrister, John Kearney QC, told the Court of Appeal yesterday that his client's brother, Patrick Murphy, was in control of the farm from before 1991 until the present time and that the authorities went after Thomas Murphy for tax his brother Patrick had already paid.
Mr Kearney said documents on the movement of cattle lead to a position, which could not be disproved, that Patrick Murphy was in charge of "all this".
He was the "man in the fields" in ongoing control. All of the documents, all of the cheques "turn up in his shed", Mr Kearney said.
In reference to certain transactions, Mr Kearney said a witness gave evidence that Patrick Murphy "probably" forged or filled in the body of these documents.
Mr Kearney said a reasonable inference could be drawn from the documents that Thomas Murphy had nothing to do with cattle farming and Patrick Murphy used his name.
In relation to the banking evidence, the Prosecution's position was "follow the money", Mr Kearney said.
Cheques from cattle sales were going into a particular account. But the evidence demonstrated a "real possibility" that Patrick Murphy operated the account not Thomas Murphy, Mr Kearney said.
Patrick Murphy was no stranger to the Dundalk bank branch in question because he had another account there and there was no evidence Thomas Murphy ever set foot in that branch.
A forensic accountant was of the belief that Patrick Murphy had, during the timeframe of the charges, been using accounts of other persons. In other words, Patrick Murphy had a propensity to use bank accounts of other people, which was significant, counsel said.
If Patrick Murphy was the sort of person who would put his farm into his wife's name, he might also put a farm into his brother’s name, counsel suggested.
No matter what level of analysis you do, "Patrick Murphy lurks".
This was the type of joined up analytical work the Special Criminal Court should have done, counsel submitted.
Having brought the courts attention to this analysis, it was "staggering" that the court didn't mention "any of it" in its verdict.
Counsel submitted that in a circumstantial case, the Special Criminal Court was duty bound to "put the jigsaw together" but the court took seven pieces of the prosecution jigsaw and totally disregarded the alternative.
In 357 pages of written submissions, Murphy's lawyers have filed 48 grounds of appeal.
The hearing before President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards is expected to conclude tomorrow.