Jury to resume deliberations on Lowry verdict on Monday
Issue in the case is what Tipperary TD knew about his tax returns, judge says
Independent TD Michael Lowry has pleaded not guilty to filing incorrect tax returns. Photograph: Courtpix
The jury in the trial of Independent TD Michael Lowry have ceased its deliberations having considered a verdict for just under an hour.
It is the State’s case that Mr Lowry’s company, Garuda Ltd, received £248,624 sterling (€372,000) in commission from Norpe OY, a refrigeration company based in Finland, in August 2002.
It is alleged that Mr Lowry arranged for this payment to be made to a third party, Kevin Phelan, residing in the Isle of Man, and therefore it didn’t appear in the company accounts for that year.
It is further alleged that the accounts were then falsified in 2007 to reflect that the payment was received in 2006.
On Wednesday Judge Martin Nolan told the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that a charge of delivering an incorrect tax return for 2002 had been withdrawn. He told the jurors in his charge on Friday that the issue in this case was what Mr Lowry knew.
He said the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt Mr Lowry knew the money was not included in the company accounts and tax computations. He said Mr Lowry’s explanation was that he had instructed a staff member to raise an invoice in 2002, assumed this had been done and the money automatically entered on the company’s accounts.
The judge told the jurors that they must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this explanation is not true in order to convict. He said if they found the explanation reasonably believable, then they must acquit.
Referring to evidence of the money appearing in the company’s 2006 accounts, he repeated if the jury believed Mr Lowry did not know about this then it must acquit.
He told the jurors they must deliver corresponding verdicts for Mr Lowry and Garuda Ltd, as the accused is the company. He said the jury must look at the evidence in a “commonsensical” way and come to a decision coldly on the facts. “The law is not difficult, the facts are”, he said.
Mr Lowry (64) of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co. Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty to four charges of filing incorrect tax returns on dates between August 2002 and August 2007 in relation to a sum of Stg £248,624 received by his company, Garuda Ltd and one charge in relation to failing to keep a proper set of accounts on dates between August 28th, 2002 and August 3rd, 2007.
He further pleaded not guilty on behalf of Garuda Ltd to three similar charges in relation to the company’s tax affairs and one charge of failing to keep a proper set of accounts on the same dates.
At 4.30pm on Friday Judge Nolan told the jury to cease its deliberations for the evening. The jurors are due to return on Monday to continue considering the verdicts.