23 December 2005

Knee-capped builder first to be extradited on VAT charges

Irish Independent

**Talk about having a bad week...

George Jackson and Kathy Donaghy

A BUILDING sub-contractor was last night extradited from the North to face VAT-related charges in the first extradition case taken by the Revenue Commissioners.

Patrick McGonigle (56), who together with his 31-year-old son was shot in the leg in a paramilitary-style shooting in Derry earlier this week, was last night extradited to face six VAT-related charges.

Mr McGonigle, a sub-contractor who has addresses at Woodlands in Derry and at Quiet Water in Muff, just across the border in Co Donegal, is the first person to be extradited from the north to the south on such charges.

A bench warrant for his arrest was issued on March 21, 2003, after he failed to appear in Carndonagh District Court in Co Donegal, for making incorrect VAT returns.

But despite a number of searches by the PSNI, Mr McGonigle remained at large.

However, in the early hours of Tuesday Mr McGonigle and his son, Michael, who lives at Cranlee Park in Derry, were attacked by four masked men, one of whom was armed, outside a fish and chip shop close to the Derry-Donegal border at Culmore.

The gang bundled them into a car and drove them five miles to the Creggan Estate in Derry where they shot both men.

The gang then drove from the scene and the car they used was later found on fire at Quarry Street in the Brandywell area of the city.

The shooting was claimed by the Real IRA. The police said the attack was related to an ongoing feud between rival criminal gangs in the north-west.

They also linked it to the shooting last September of a man who was wounded in the leg at his business premises at Culmore.

Resident Magistrate Barney McElholm was told during the extradition hearing at Derry's Magistrates' Court that McGonigle was arrested yesterday morning by police officers at Strand Road PSNI station.

A Crown lawyer said that warrants for McGonigle's arrest were issued by a District Justice in Carndonagh District Court on December 2, 2003.

McGonigle is charged with six offences of knowingly or wilfully delivering to the office of the Collector General, Sarsfield House, Limerick, incorrect VAT 3 returns, on various dates between March 2000 and April 2001.

The charges are contrary to Section 1078 (2) (a) and (3) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

The lawyer told the court that McGonigle did not want to be legally represented and that he was not contesting the extradition proceedings.

When asked by the Magistrate to confirm that, McGonigle replied "yes". He also told the court he was waiving his right to appeal his extradition within 15 days and told Mr McElholm: "I do not want 15 days, I do not need that, I want to go today."

McGonigle, who walked with a pronounced limp in his right leg when he arrived in custody for the extradition hearing, then signed before the Magistrate a form in which he consented to his immediate extradition to the south.

It is understood that the amount of money involved runs to a six-figure sum and is in the region of several hundred thousand euro.

Only three people have been the subject of bench warrants in connection with tax related charges.

All of the three individuals are based in Co Donegal.

Mr McGonigle was remanded in custody when he appeared at a special sitting of the District Court in Donegal town last night. He was charged with a number of tax offences and remanded to appear again on December 29.

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