Court approves way for non-jury tax trial for Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy

Supreme Court rejects accused’s appeal against holding case in Special Criminal Court

Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy at a previous hearing. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy at a previous hearing. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill


The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the non-jury trial of Co Louth man Thomas “Slab” Murphy, on tax charges.

The five-judge court yesterday unanimously rejected a challenge by Mr Murphy to the validity of a 2007 certificate of the Director of Public Prosecutions directing his trial before the non-jury Special Criminal Court rather than the ordinary courts.

While the courts may review decisions of the DPP to direct a non-jury trial, that should happen only when an accused person could advance a substantial case that the decision-making process had miscarried, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell said.

‘Entirely unacceptable’
In this case, Mr Murphy advanced no facts to challenge the DPP’s decision and his judicial review challenge proceeded on the basis of legal argument only, he said. The procedural history of this case was “unsatisfactory” and it was “entirely unacceptable” some six years had passed since charges were preferred and the matter had not yet been tried.

The DPP’s certificate indicated it was “highly likely” the reason the DPP considered the ordinary courts inadequate to secure the administration of justice “must relate to the connections of Mr Murphy with organisations which are prepared to interfere with the administration of justice”, the judge said.

National security
A statement of reasons to the effect the DPP believed Mr Murphy to be a member of, or associated with, an organisation prepared to interfere with the administration of justice, or even justifying the non-delivery of reasons by reference to national security, would be sufficient unless the accused challenged the decision with sufficient information to undermine the DPP’s position, Mr Justice O’Donnell added.

Mr Murphy (60), of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, faces trial on nine charges of failing to furnish tax returns for the years from 1996 -97 to 2004.