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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Kinahan link to businessman raided in 'Slab' Murphy probe

Jailed fraudster Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Jailed fraudster Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

A businessman whose offices were raided as part of a probe into Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy’s assets has promoted a gym connected to the Kinahan gang.

Property developer Dermot Craven came under the spotlight in 2005 when UK revenue officials searched his home and company offices in connection with alleged IRA money  laundering.

At a press conference at the time, Mr Craven, from Manchester, admitted that his company – The Craven Group – managed properties for Frank Murphy, the brother of tax evader and alleged IRA chief Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy.

Craven denied that he was involved in any laundering, and has never faced any charges. However, the multi-millionaire is now linked to the Kinahans – the prime targets of the Regency Hotel shooting – after promoting the MGM gym, which is closely associated to the gang.

Craven has been heavily involved in promoting the Marbella-based gym which gang boss Daniel Kinahan – who is at the heart of Dublin’s latest gangland feud – uses to manage boxers.

Kinahan recently told a boxing magazine that he plays a senior role in the Puerto Banus gym by organising deals and signing fighters. He plays a visible presence on the MGM website, with several photos of Kinahan alongside boxers.

MGM has also attracted many respectable figures in the world of boxing who are not involved in criminality.

MGM promoted the recent fight at the National Stadium in Dublin 8 that was cancelled after six gunmen stormed the pre-fight weigh-in at the Regency Hotel earlier this month. In 2012, Craven gave a tour of the Spanish gym in a promotional video released on YouTube.

The opening scene of the video shows Kinahan working out on the punching pads before Craven gives his tour.

“Let me take you inside and show you what it’s all about,” says Craven in the video.

“This is where the action happens, where we all tell lies. The lies that are told in there are incredible,” he says, pointing into a meeting room.

Craven is quoted as being the “co-owner of MGM” in an article published by Euro Weekly news in 2013.

Efforts to contact Craven at his offices yesterday were unsuccessful, while attempts to contact Craven in recent weeks by INM – publishers of this newspaper – also failed.

In 2005, the businessman ran Craven Developments Limited alongside his corporate partner, Brian Pepper.

Pepper was listed as secretary of a company owned by ‘Slab’ Murphy’s brother, which was based at Craven House in Manchester.

‘Slab’ handed over nine Manchester properties to British revenue officers in 2010 as part of a major operation.

The properties, believed to be worth nearly £445,000, were based in Stretford and Trafford.

At the time of the 2005 probe, Craven said that he never met ‘Slab’ but did meet his brother Frank.

Prrison

Last week, veteran republican ‘Slab’ Murphy was sentenced to 18 months in prison for tax evasion.

Murphy voted in the Louth constituency – where Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams retained his seat – before travelling to Dublin to be sentenced.

The 66-year-old was found guilty on nine counts of failing to file tax returns between 1996 and 2004. The Criminal Assets Bureau found bags with more than €250,000 and £199,000 (€252,000) in cash when they raided his farm along the border.

He denied the charges.

The Herald has learned that Murphy is to be offered to take part in educational programmes as he enters his first full week in prison.

He spent the weekend in his own cell in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise, where Graham Dwyer and killer Mark Nash are also serving sentences.

He was transferred from the Special Criminal Court to Portlaoise Prison on Friday, in accordance with a procedure for all prisoners who are found guilty in the non-jury court.

Murphy (66) spent less than an hour in Portlaoise before he was transferred to the Midlands Prison.

The move means that the alleged former IRA chief-of-staff is being kept away from prisoners with paramilitary links, who are normally kept in Portlaoise.

The Herald has learned that Murphy will not receive any special treatment.

“He might be high profile in the media but in terms of the prisoners, he is a normal prisoner who was brought in for fraud.

“Prisoners in Portlaoise don’t consider themselves to be criminals. They see themselves as political prisoners.

“The likes of the IRA, while it is criminal (organisation)  – they don’t deem themselves to be criminals despite being in jail for it. They see themselves as prisoners of war or political prisoners,” a source said.

Murphy – prisoner number 102444 – was found guilty in the Special Criminal Court last Friday on nine counts of failing to file tax returns between 1996 and 2004.

“Because of his links to the IRA, he had to be (tried) in the Special Criminal Court.

“He was given an outline of how his day will pan out and what will be available to him if he wants to do the school, gym exercises, the workshop – anything like that – he will be able to put himself down for those,” the source said.

Escaped

Meanwhile, the investigation into the Regency attack continues. Daniel Kinahan, the son of cartel boss Christy Kinahan, was the chief target of the attack, but he escaped from the hotel unharmed.

Investigators believe the attack, carried out by six gunmen, three of whom were armed with AK-47s, was a response to the slaying of Gary Hutch in Spain last year.

Two of Daniel Kinahan’s associates were wounded in the attack in the northside hotel, while David Byrne was shot in the legs before being assassinated by suspected members of the Hutch gang.

In response, the Kinahan gang are believed to have gunned down the brother of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch –  Eddie Hutch Snr (58) – in a murder in Dublin’s Poplar Row.

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