A businessman was jailed for continuing a £76,784 VAT fiddle despite the taxman closing in on him.
Planning consultant Gordon Armitage, 74, claimed to be short of cash as he awaited the completion of a land deal which could have netted £240,000, Derby Crown Court heard.
But Judge Stuart Rafferty QC said the pensioner might have been able to raise cash on his £350,000 home and told him: “Her Majesty’s Revenue came and investigated. You didn’t even blink, carried on, and the bill went up. If this was not professional planning and persistence, it is as close as you can get. You were not entitled to one penny piece and at the moment people in this country are suffering.”
A 15-month prison term was imposed on Armitage, of Ashover Road, Ashover, who admitted fraud.
Christopher Gabbitas, prosecuting, said he set up a land development consultancy in March 2008. He submitted 22 returns claiming back VAT on bills for work done. But, according to the court, investigators found they were invented and were quotes for jobs which had never been carried out.
Armitage was questioned on March 8. Nicola Hornby, defending, said Armitage accepts he will repay the money to HMRC, that the land deal was expected to go ahead and he had built debts. The court heard Armitage was previously jailed in 1988 for theft and forging a valuable security. He was disqualified as a company director and previously jailed in 2002 for procuring services of a councillor in a land deal.