“The agency’s investigation has produced evidence of what might be characterised as a lawless lifestyle”

The BBC reports the delayed start of the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s [SOCA] application for a civil recovery order of property and assets belonging to Seamus Francis Mullan.

A former member of the Provisional IRA who was serving a life imprisonment sentence for the 1985 murder of an off-duty RUC officer before being freed on early release licence in 1998, Mullan was arrested in 2006 on money laundering and fraud charges – at the time he was described in court as a “disaffected republican”.

Subsequently, the then Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Peter Hain, revoked his early release licence.

“In making his decision the Secretary of State took account of information from the police service of Northern Ireland indicating Mr Mullan`s involvement with a specified organisation.

“The Secretary of State believes that Mr Mullan is in breach of his licence and remains a real danger to the public.”

I can’t find a reference to his re-release, but it evidently occurred.  As the earler BBC report notes

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is seeking to confiscate the properties and a bank account, claiming they are the proceeds of crime.

It is applying for a civil recovery order.

The case got under way following a failed attempt to have the civil case dismissed.

Mullan’s lawyer had claimed he was unable to give proper instructions due to a head injury suffered on his farm in 2008.  [added emphasis]

The ruling on that failed attempt to have the civil case dismissed adds

The defendant has previously been charged with five counts on a Bill of Indictment relating to the possession and sale of contraband cigarettes.  On 9 June 2009 following a hearing before Judge McFarland it was concluded, having considered the medical evidence, that the defendant had established that he was unfit to plead.  The judge then stayed the proceedings which were not to be proceeded with without the leave of the court. [added emphasis]

However, that same ruling gives the date of the revocation of Mullan’s early release licence as 20 December 2008.

In August 2006 the police seized 240,000 contraband cigarettes in a van driven behind the defendant’s vehicle.  He denied knowing anything about the cigarettes but his fingerprints were found on the black plastic used to cover the rear windows.  The driver of the van  eventually implicated the defendant.  Subsequent searches of properties associated with the defendant revealed the paraphernalia associated with contraband cigarette distribution.  He is alleged to have used aliases to try to hide his involvement in the unlawful conduct and to have tried to hide his association to telephone numbers others had for him as a contraband cigarette distributor.  He has also used a series of different addresses and, according to SOCA,  has acquired properties through mortgage fraud.  It is claimed that the defendant and his wife have been engaged in various types of fraud to obtain various different State benefits to which it is asserted they were not entitled.  It is also claimed that he has been engaged in tax evasion associated with farming.  His licence  under the early release provisions consequent upon the Belfast Agreement in 1998 was revoked by the Secretary of State on 20 December 2008 following the Secretary of State’s determination that the defendant was in breach of his licence and remained a danger to the public.  SOCA, at paragraph 20 of the skeleton argument, emphasised that the defendant is the owner of a family farm in Garvagh, has been since in or about 1999, that they do not seek to recover this property and it is accordingly available for his use either to live in or to raise money on.  [added emphasis]

That doesn’t appear to be the case, according to the NI Prison Service situation report of 22 December 2006 [scroll down].  And there’s no comparable online report for December 2008.

Those aren’t the only odd dates to appear.  From the NI High Court ruling on 23 June 2011

The defendant’s background has been helpfully summarised in  SOCA’s  skeleton argument.  The defendant, at the time of the swearing of the grounding affidavit, was 56 years old.  He is married with a wife and son.  He was convicted of robbery in 1976 and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.  He was convicted of blackmail in 1980 and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment.  In 1987 he was convicted of the murder of a police officer and was sentenced to life imprisonment.  He was released on licence under the terms of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.  Following his release it appears he continued to be involved in unlawful conduct and acquisitive crime including the distribution of contraband cigarettes and tobacco.   He was stopped a number of times from 2003 through to 2006, and other similar offenders who were detected in other parts of the country were also linked to him as their distributor (see paras 22-58 of grounding affidavit). [added emphasis]

And from the earlier BBC report

Details of a cigarette seizure at his farm in 2003 were outlined in court, with Mullan telling police at the time he knew nothing about the haul.

He was also said to be unable to explain diaries found at the property which contained a series of apparent references to quantities of different cigarette brands and cash amounts.

Another entry in the journals detailed apparent trading in shirts, tracksuits, jeans and other clothing.

It was set out how 30,000 contraband cigarettes were seized from his van after it was stopped in 2004, resulting in a restraint order being imposed in criminal proceedings.

In which case, why was his early release licence not revoked until 20 December 2006?  Or even, if it was, 20 December 2008?

[But Soca is just a front for the MI5 ..! – Ed]   Ah, yes, the “Something, Something, Something, Dark Side…” 

They have “a sound working partnership” with the PSNI, you know.

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