DISGRACED Roy Terry ripped off the taxpayer to the tune of £65,000 after making a string of fake VAT claims using businesses he set up just to use for fraud.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 79-year-old marketing consultant made the cash over four years using 20 firms.
But for the fact that you are in very poor health you might well have been receiving an immediate prison sentenceJudge Roger Hetherington
He escaped being sent to jail due to his poor health and age.
Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘You are before the court having pleaded guilty to an offence of cheating the public revenue, the sort of offence that rightly the public finds repugnant.
‘In effect you were cheating all the other taxpayers.
‘The fraud that you embarked upon was one that involved a degree of planning and some sophistication.’
The court heard Terry set up the companies then sent in VAT claims to HMRC for expenditure that was never incurred.
Whenever inspectors quizzed Terry he withdrew the claims to throw them off the scent.
Judge Hetherington added: ‘It involved, in the course of the fraud, making a number of false declarations.
‘It involved fictitious invoicing, fictitious addressees, maybe even the invention of a fictitious person.
‘You have brought shame on your family as well.
‘But for the fact that you are in very poor health you might well have been receiving an immediate prison sentence.’
Daniel Higgins, defending, said Terry – who suffers from cancer – was willing to sell his one-bedroom home to pay back the cash.
He added: ‘He’s a pillar of the community.
‘This conviction for him is a real fall from grace.’
He added Terry had worked as a consultant in his early 20s in America and had expected a larger pension.
‘The money didn’t go on a lavish lifestyle,’ he added.
Judge Hetherington gave Terry, of Free Street, Bishop’s Waltham, an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
At an earlier hearing he admitted one charge of cheating the public revenue by filing false claims for the repayment of VAT.
Terry formed 19 companies and named himself as director, along with at least one business as a sole trader, a HMRC investigation found.
It found some evidence of trading for some of the firms.
Speaking after the hearing, John Cooper, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: ‘Terry was well aware of his tax obligations and that he was breaking the law.
‘He chose to overlook this to make what he assumed would be easy money at the expense of UK taxpayers and now he has a criminal record.’