Deputy Michael Lowry was in Clonmel Circuit Court this week where his legal team fought against having his transferred to Dublin.
Deputy Lowry also had judgement reserved over sumissions made in regard to his up-coming trial over the alleged filing of incorrect tax returns to the Revenue Commissioners.
The decision came following almost five hours of legal argument and debate during which the Independent Deputy’s legal team sought to have a stay put on the case on four separate grounds.
Counsellor for the former Minister told Judge Tom Teehan that the case against his client was tainted and corroded by illegality and they were seeking to have it “paused” ahead of an application to have it dismissed entirely.
Deputy Lowry of Glenreigh, Holycross is facing four charges of knowingly filing incorrect tax returns on separate dates in 2003 and 2007. But, his Defence Counsellor, Mr Patrick Treacy told the court that they were four grounds under which to have the matter put back.
The court heard that the Detective Chief Superintendent of the Criminal Assets Bureau was investigating matters surrounding raids on Deputy Lowry’s home and business in Holycross and Abby Road, Thurles, last July.
Mr Tracey said they had received correspondence from Tipperary Chief Superintendent Catherine Kehoe that this senior officer had been appointed to look into how personal financial details regarding Mr Lowry were on both national and local media in the days after the raid.
Defence counsel said that both Mr Lowry’s accountants and KMPG, who were sought for a second opinion, found he had no income tax liability in regards to commission paid to his company Garuda - stating the monies were paid into the company’s loan account and therefore were not part of Mr Lowry’s income which was less than a third of the €394,395 Euro in commission arising from transactions between the Deputy’s company and a Norwegian firm.
Mr Tracey then told the court that they were seeking a third party disclosure order against The Sunday Independent (Independent News and Media) which he claimed engaged in “vicious and unrelenting” attacks on his client. He produced a number of articles in court relating to the so called “Lowry Tapes” stating that the whole trial could be derailed by what he called the flagrant attitude of the paper with week after week attacks on Mr Lowry- describing it as a systemic concentrated campaign to vilify him.
Deputy Lowry’s legal team also told Judge Teehan that the whole trial has become cancerous due to the disclosure of the taxpayer’s financial details.
Senior Counsel for the State, Remy Farrell said that nothing had been presented by Mr Lowry’s team to state that anything is incorrect or untrue in regards to the case and that no controversy has been identified. He argued that there was no evidence that there was leaked information from the Revenue Commissioners to the media and there was no factual basis to claims made by Mr Lowry’s barrister that the Sunday Independent’s circulation is predominately Dublin based, adding that the Tipperary TD is a public representative in the national eye. He also referred to the fact that the “Lowry Tapes” articles which were produced in court sparked the Revenue investigation in the first place.
Questioning whether it is only when Deputy Lowry is satisfied that the case can proceed, Mr Remy described as a” curious submission” claims by the Lowry legal team that all the issues raised in the relevant media outlets has poisoned the trial, arguing that when a jury is empanelled they will be given an overview of the case during which they will hear about the searches on the Deputy’s home and business, adding it was difficult to see the prejudice.
The State had applied to the court to have the trial moved to Dublin claiming that the body of jurors from which a panel would be selected had in all likelihood given Deputy Lowry their first preference vote during the General Election and could be biased either objectively or subjectively.
Mr Farrell stated that Mr Lowry was a very successful politician pulling a third to a quarter of the vote in every General Election that he stood in and that a substantial number of potential jurors would have “ sat in judgement of him” already via the ballot box. He added that just the mere perception of bias could be used in an appeal and that in this regard it could also lead a conviction being quashed adding it would be a manifest of justice if the trial proceeded in this jurisdiction.
However in seeking a dismissal of the application to have the case moved to Dublin, counsel for Deputy Lowry stated that the jury takes a solemn oath when they are empanelled and that the DPP’s assertion of bias, whether consciously or otherwise, undermines and makes little of this oath.
Judge Tom Teehan told the court that it would take time to study the submissions and he wouldn’t be ready to deliver judgement by the time the court rises for the summer on Thursday.
He adjourned the matter until October 2nd before Kilkenny Circuit Court while he also informed Deputy Lowry’s team that he would set aside time on Monday October 13th if they wanted to make a 3rd party disclosure order.