A RATHKEALE man, who had already been convicted of rhino-horn smuggling and obstructing a peace officer, has been found guilty on seven counts of failing to make income tax returns going back to 2005.
But Judge Mary Larkin refused him free legal aid when he came before her at Newcastle West court last Thursday. And when solicitor John Lynch sought more time to deal with the matter, the request was opposed by State solicitor Aidan Judge.
Before the court was Richard O’Brien Jnr, Monkshill, Rathkeale who was summonsed on seven counts of failing to make income tax returns. The summonses had been served on Mr O’Brien on January 15, Mr Judge said, and he had received no communication whatseover from that date. “I have an Inspector of Taxes in court. I want to proceed,” he said.
Mr Lynch said his client resides in the UK. “He was before you on another matter last Friday and has stayed on for a week,” Mr Lynch said “He tells me he is living there since 2002,” he continued.
Inspector of Taxes, Mr Fitzpatrick, said he wrote to Richard O’Brien Jnr at Monkshill, Rathkeale twice last June, alerting him to his obligations as a taxable person under the legislation.
Mr O’Brien, he explained, had not made returns for any tax year from 2005 to 2011. Questioned by solicitor Mr Lynch, Mr Fitzpatrick said that Mr O’Brien was regarded for income tax purposes as a self-employed person and the first returns were due in 2005.
“We got no correction from him since to say otherwise,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Mr O’Brien, Mr Lynch said, resides at an address in England “and has done so for over ten years” and he asked for time to produce evidence of that.
“Surely he brought the evidence with him?” Judge Larkin asked but Mr Lynch said his client did not have access to the paperwork.
“We all have to file our income tax returns,” the Judge replied, adding that she did not accept that defence.
The maximum penalty for the charge of failing to make tax returns, she was told by Mr Judge, was €5000, reducible to €1,250 and or a maximum one year in jail.
Judge Larkin fined Mr O’Brien €1,250 on each of the seven summons and imposed a sentence of three months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, on the 2006 count.
When she fixed recognisance with leave to appeal at a cash bond of €1,250, Mr Lynch said his client wasn’t working and “doesn’t have that kind of money available to him”. He pointed out that Mr O’Brien had turned up and had stayed in the jurisdiction.
“The manner he has dealt with the summons isn’t satisfactory,” the judge said but she reset recognisance at €750.
When an application for free legal aid was made, she said: “I would need to see a statement of means.”
Mr Lynch said his client had no income but “does sporadic work” for his father-in-law. The property he lives in, was owned by his father.
“Are you saying he is a member of the landed gentry?” Judge Larkin asked.
“Living in his father’s home place?”
Mr Lynch explained the property was a mobile home in a yard in Cambridgeshire.
“You expect me to believe he his not earning any income? I can’t accept that,” the Judge said, refusing the application for free legal aid.