Garlic scam man awaits cut in sentence

 

A businessman jailed over a 1.6 million euro (£1.3 million) garlic import duty scam has been remanded back into custody while appeal judges decide by how much to reduce his sentence.

Paul Begley was jailed for six years for tax offences after admitting labelling more than 1,000 tonnes of garlic imported from China as apples, which have a cheaper tax rate.

Three judges at Dublin's Court of Criminal Appeal previously ruled that the term - the longest ever handed down for tax fraud of its kind - was excessive and disproportionate.

After brief submissions from legal teams in the court this morning they adjourned a decision on when Begley will be freed.

Begley, 47, was head of Ireland's largest fruit and vegetable company, Begley Brothers Ltd, when he avoided paying a higher tax of up to 232% on garlic. Fruit and vegetables have rates as low as 9%.

He was jailed last March.

Patrick Gageby, senior counsel for Begley, said three documents had been filed with the court which outline the "consequences" of the case on his client, including a five-year disqualification as a director since the day he pleaded guilty.

He also told the three judges, led by Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Liam McKechnie, that the conviction centred on a sample four charges of avoiding tax, totalling just over 85,000 euro (£73,900).

Elsewhere, Remy Farrell, senior counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the maximum sentence on each of the counts was five years in prison, or a 10,000 euro (£8,690) fine or treble the amount of the duty avoided, whichever was the largest sum.

Judge McKechnie said the court needed more time to consider the sentence, but would decide "pretty soon".

Begley's wife Diane, brother Greg, son Michael and elderly mother Phyllis were among the family members in the courtroom, which was packed with about 25 supporters.

He was jailed for evading customs duty between September 2003 and October 2007.

The trial judge was told the total fraud was about 1.6 million euro (£1.3 million) and that Begley, of Rathcoole, Co Dublin, had been paying off debts of 33,000 euro (£27,190) a month.

While the maximum sentence was five years, last year Judge Martin Nolan controversially imposed the maximum term on one count and one year on another count - to run consecutively.

Judge McKechnie previously warned the businessman the tax evasion was a serious matter carried out with premeditation over a period of time for personal gain.

However, he told the court the mitigating factors against the lengthy sentence had been striking.

Begley, who was dressed in a smart pin-striped suit, was led away by prison guards to continue serving his sentence at the Training Unit in Mountjoy Jail.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions