AN ongoing court case involving a Drinagh shopkeeper who pleaded guilty to selling tobacco and cigarettes, without paying duty on them, was finally settled this week when he was convicted and fined €2,500 for the offence, following evidence given in court by a Revenue solicitor.
John Daly of The Paddock, Drinagh, a brother of Junior Health Minister Jim Daly, first pleaded guilty last October to having 680 cigarettes and 0.300kg of fine tobacco for sale at his shop, without having paid duty on them, when Revenue visited in November 2016. There was a loss of revenue to the State of €400.
The case had been adjourned several times since, with the court hearing that Mr Daly risked losing his licence if a conviction was recorded.
At Clonakilty Court this week, State solicitor Malachy Boohig told Judge Mary Dorgan that he was seeking to amend the date on the summons from November 4th 2016 to November 7th 2016.
Solicitor Jim Brooks, representing Mr Daly, said he did not consent to the amendment, but the judge granted it.
Tom Browne, a solicitor with the Revenue’s criminal prosecution division in Cork, told the court that Revenue decisions are guided by legislation.
Mr Browne said that ‘a compromise penalty’ can’t be considered in this case because tobacco was involved.
‘A compromise penalty is available in mineral oil cases, but not tobacco,’ said Mr Browne, who also highlighted aggravating factors such as the fact that the defendant is a postmaster and handles private data.
Mr Brooks said that his client had received a lot of adverse publicity over the case, and also pointed out that the contraband tobacco was not stolen and was on sale in the shop and not the post office.
Mr Boohig told Judge Dorgan that the maximum penalty for this offence was €5,000, which could be mitigated to €2,500, which he said he was not opposed to being done.
Judge Dorgan said Mr Browne’s attendance in court had brought clarity to the matter in relation to there being no room for compromise when it comes to tobacco. Judge Dorgan said the court had no option but to convict with a mitigated penalty of €2,500 and gave Mr Daly five months to pay. Recognisance for an appeal was fixed in Mr Daly’s own bond of €125 in cash.