The family of a 62-year-old operator of a Cork cleaning company, jailed for two years after admitting tax offences amounting to hundreds of thousands of euro, burst into tears at his sentencing yesterday.
Barry McDonald of McDonald Cleaning Services Ltd of Unit 9, Rockgrove industrial estate, Little Island, Co Cork, and of Factory Hill, Kilcoolishal, Glanmire, was given a three-year jail sentence, with the last year suspended, for the offences committed over a nine-year period.
When Judge Patrick J Moran heard the crying from the public gallery at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, he said: “I am sorry. This is my duty.”
Referring to evidence of Revenue inspector John O’Flynn, the judge said the total loss to the Revenue as a result of the company’s offences totalled €273,000 and the loss as a result of offences by McDonald personally was €343,000, of which €44,000 had been repaid.
Defence barrister Tom Power said of McDonald: “At one time he employed quite a lot of people [up to 90 at one point] and was of some service to the State. He has put all his assets into dealing with the outstanding monies. He is not holding back on anything.
“He is a man who has essentially lost everything, and is heading into the autumn years of his life with nothing to look forward to except bringing his affairs with the Revenue Commissioners into some kind of line.”
Judge Moran said the defendant co-operated to a degree with the Revenue investigation, refusing to answer certain questions during one interview.
Referring again to the Revenue inspector’s evidence, the judge said to McDonald: “You had a considerable advantage over your competitors by not being tax-compliant.”
The judge referred to a recent decision in a fraud case at the Court of Criminal Appeal which sought to give guidance to sentencing judges in what it referred to as the current financial emergency, and such cases becoming a more common feature of the criminal justice landscape.
Jailing McDonald for his personal offences, the judge imposed a €150,000 fine on his company, which has not traded since Mar 2009.