THE co-owner of a chain of children’s nurseries who stole £950,000 from his employees has been jailed for five and a half years.
Michael Scott, 63, was sentenced today at Southampton Crown Court after creating, as the judge described, a ‘smoke screen’ for four and half years that was aimed at deceiving HM Revenue Customs and his staff.
I have formed the view that sadly you have an obstinate and stubborn side to you. You present yourself as a man who always believes yourself to be right and everybody else to be wrongJudge Peter Henry
Scott cheated more than 180 employees by deducting Pay As You Earn Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions from the salaries of his workers, but then failed to declare and pay the money to the revenue authorities.
The fraud took place between April 2007 and November 2011 as Scott was the director of Pixies Nursery, with two branches in Locks Road, Locks Heath, and one in Southampton.
Scott, of Grovebury, Locks Heath, appeared at court wearing a smart suit and was relaxed and smiled at certain points during the sentencing hearing.
Judge Peter Henry told him: ‘I am quite satisfied that you had grandiose business ideas which were far beyond your abilities, knowledge and judgment.
‘I have formed the view that sadly you have an obstinate and stubborn side to you.
‘You present yourself as a man who always believes yourself to be right and everybody else to be wrong.
‘That may have been a factor in your decision to take that money for yourself.’
He said Scott was a ‘cheat against fellow citizens’ for not paying money to society.
He said Scott had also failed his staff.
‘Your actions put in jeopardy their rights and entitlements,’ he said.
‘It may be they have managed to disentangle themselves from the difficulties.
‘One can only imagine the alarm this raised when they discovered their pension entitlements had not been paid.’
He said Scott was ‘dismissive’ and even ‘intimidating’ when an employee asked about whether revenue contributions were being paid.
Mr Henry added: ‘You created a web of companies by changing the names of the companies, changing names of the people who were supposed to be paying the staff.’
The judge acknowledged that at no point was the care of the children put in jeopardy.
He acknowledged that Scott had done things for charity and was a ‘successful, self-made man’.
Judge Henry disqualified Scott from being a director of a company for 10 years.
He said: ‘It’s abundantly clear you are not a fit person to run a company.’
Scott was sentenced on the basis of an £800,000 net figure.
Scott did not say anything as he was sent down, but briefly smiled to the public gallery.
A confiscation order will allow the money to be repaying back to the crown.
Scott owns 10 properties in the UK, including three nurseries, and it is believed he has the assets to refund the authorities.
After the sentence Lorraine Instrell, 34, who worked for 13 years at the Locks Heath nursery from 1999 to 2012, said: ‘I am over the moon.
‘If you do the crime, you do the time.
‘I was annoyed.
‘I was upset and shocked that he could do something like that.’