Judge Mary Dorgan made the comments after John Daly, of the Paddock, Drinagh, Co Cork, had pleaded guilty to having the tobacco products for sale or delivery without having paid the required duty on them on November 4, 2016.
Clonakilty District Court was told customs officer Fiana Harrington had secured a warrant to search the premises on foot of confidential information. In the search 680 cigarettes were found as well as 0.3kg of tobacco. Solicitor for the State, Malachy Boohig, said the cost to the State was just over €400. Judge Dorgan was told Mr Daly had no convictions and the penalty was a fine of €5,000 which could be mitigated to half that amount.
Mr Daly’s solicitor, James Brooks, said his client was a man of 50 who ran a small corner shop in Drinagh.
“He was tempted because of a decline in revenue to purchase them without going through Customs and was apprehended,” he said.
Mr Brooks said his client had immediately accepted responsibility, had never been before the courts, and had written to the customs officer. “It’s a hands up from day one and a pleading letter,” Mr Brooks said, staying his client wanted to balance the books and avoid court. Judge Dorgan on reading the letter said it was “forthright and contrite”.
Mr Brooks said he had spoken to Mr Boohig about whether the judge could use her discretion in the case. Mr Boohig said he had told his client that the judge may wish to have the case dealt with in a different manner but Revenue had taken the view the case was to proceed.
Judge Dorgan said: “I am giving them [Revenue] an opportunity to alter their view and if they do not, you may tell them that I might use my discretion.”