Sentencing deferred on garlic importer for tax scam

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Fruit and vegetable importer Paul Begley will have to wait a little longer to find out what his new sentence will be for running a tax scam on garlic.

The Court of Criminal Appeal last month ruled his original 6-year jail term was excessive but now wants further time to consider what sentence would be appropriate.

Having heard brief submissions from the DPP and Paul Begley’s lawyers, presiding judge Mr. Justice Liam McKechnie said the court would give a decision pretty soon.

The disqualified businessman of Begley Brothers Ltd., Blanchardstown in Dublin was sent to prison last March by Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He had pleaded guilty to 4 sample counts of evading customs duty between September 2003 and October 2007.

Paying off Revenue settlement

While the maximum sentence for the offence is 5 years in prison or a fine of 3-times the value of the goods, Judge Martin Nolan imposed the maximum term on one count and a consecutive 1 year sentence on another count.

This was found to be disproportionate on appeal as it did not fully account for Paul Begley’s remorse and co-operation with customs.

The 47-year-old is currently paying off a €1.6 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners.

The scam involved having containers of garlic imported from China labelled as apples to avoid paying the exceptionally high duty on garlic.

The businessman had a large crowd of supporters in court for today’s hearing.

He will remain in custody while the court considers his new sentence.

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