Garlic importer to know revised jail term soon - judge
Fruit and vegetable importer Paul Begley, who was last year sentenced to six years for failing to pay duty of about €1.6 million on garlic imports, will find out “soon” what his revised sentence will be, a judge said yesterday.
Following new submissions by Begley’s lawyers to the Court of Criminal Appeal, Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Liam McKechnie said he and two other judges needed more time to consider how his sentence might be reduced.
Begley (47), of Woodlock, Redgap, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty in Dublin Criminal Court to evading duty between September 2003 and October 2007, and later came to an agreement with Revenue to repay €1.6 million in estimated evaded duty.
In March last year Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Begley to a maximum of five years on one of four counts of evasion and to one consecutive year on another count.
He was also disqualified from acting as a director of a company for five years.
The Court of Criminal Appeal later ruled that the term – the longest ever handed down for tax fraud of its kind – was excessive and disproportionate. It invited submissions from Begley’s lawyers that might mitigate the sentence.
Yesterday, Patrick Gageby SC, for Begley, reminded the judges of the consequences of Judge Nolan’s sentence for his client. He told the court that in sentencing, some materials “were insufficiently calibrated” by the trial judge.
He said there was now “a very substantial area within which the court can affix an appropriate sentence”.
The court was also provided with a breakdown of the duty that Begley avoided on the sample counts to which he had pleaded guilty. Count one amounted to €35,352, count six to €12,373, count 10 to €18,209 and count 11 to €19,324.
Remy Farrell SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the maximum sentence on each count was five years or a €10,000 fine or treble the amount of the duty avoided, whichever was the largest sum. The court heard that Begley would also pay €22,700 in punitive interest, three-quarters being remitted to the European Community and a quarter retained by the State to cover collection costs.
Adjourning briefly before returning, Mr Justice McKechnie said he and fellow judges Mr Justice Eamon de Valera and Mr Justice Brian McGovern needed more time to consider sentencing. Giving no date for a decision, he said it would be “soon”.