Butcher jailed for VAT scam

A Yorkshire butcher who was caught out on a £3m VAT scam has been jailed for five years.

Gary Turner, 47, from Leeds, who had run concessions of Turner’s Butchers in branches of Kwik Save across Yorkshire admitted a series of fraud charges when he appeared before Leeds Crown Court.

The court heard that, during the 1990s, Turner had run a successful butcher’s business, which had included operating a number of concessions in Kwik Save in Yorkshire. However, following the BSE scare, his trade dropped and, eventually, he stopped trading.

But evidence was given he did not inform the tax authorities he was no longer in business, instead setting up a trail of fake documents, which claimed he was receiving regular supplies of meat from wholesalers.

He was then able to claim back thousands of pounds every quarter in VAT repayments. This continued for almost 14 years. When HMRC was finally alerted to the scam, an investigation was begun and more than 20,000 fake documents were discovered.

Evidence was given to the court that Turner had used the money to fund a luxury family home, six expensive cars and regular foreign holidays.

CPS prosecutor Simon Rowlinson told the court that proceedings would now be brought to recover assets for the state acquired through the fraud.

Jailing Turner, Judge Penelope Belcher said: “This was not need, this was greed. This was supporting a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the government and the lawful taxpayers across this country.”

After the case, HMRC’s assistant director for criminal investigation Peter Hollier commented in a statement: “We want to make it clear to people who think it is acceptable to defraud the tax system that tax fraud is a serious criminal offence. Turner tried to play the system so his family could live a luxury lifestyle.

“He went to a lot of effort to hide his crime, but despite his best attempts, our investigators were able to unravel what he thought was a water-tight scam.”

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