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A market trader from Devon has been jailed for stealing more than £900,000 in VAT repayments to fund a gambling addiction.
Terence Sickelmore, a trader from Devon, submitted dozens of fake VAT returns for his business to fraudulently claim repayments of £913,729, a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.
As the co-owner of Dairy World, Sickelmore used the company accounts to create 95 bogus VAT returns between October 2010 to August 2018. He was caught when HMRC reviewed his VAT returns and identified irregularities.
“Sickelmore abused his position as a business owner to steal huge amounts of money that should have been used to fund public services. He chose to fund his gambling by stealing from UK taxpayers. The money he stole is equivalent to the wages of 30 newly qualified paramedics for a whole year," Zoe Ellerbeck assistant director, fraud investigation service at HMRC, said.
“We want to level the playing field for all businesses to operate fairly and we will pursue those who are stealing public money. Tax fraud is a serious crime and I ask anyone with information about those who may be involved to report it online, or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887."
Sickelmore admitted VAT fraud at Exeter Magistrates Court on 30 July 2019. He was sentenced to three years in prison at Exeter Crown Court on 27 August 2019.