Meat wholesaler faces jail time

A Bridgend meat wholesaler has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail after falsifying business records.

As well as the false business records, 53-year-old Lindsey Stoneham faked invoices to steal £428,000 in VAT repayments, according to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Stoneham’s fraudulent activities were revealed after a VAT officer grew suspicious of his monthly VAT returns, prompting him to refer the case for criminal investigation.  

After failing to appear at Cardiff Crown Court on 16 June, a warrant was issued for Stoneham’s arrest. Following his guilty plea to fraud between March 2012 and August 2013, he was remanded in custody on 18 July.

Colin Spinks, assistant director at Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Lindsey Stoneham set out to create a false paper trail to claim money he wasn’t entitled to, but he finally faced up to his crimes and pleaded guilty to VAT fraud after initially failing to attend court. We will continue to carry out detailed investigations to bring fraudsters like Stoneham to justice.

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime; it’s theft that robs society of vital funds. Anyone with information about VAT fraud can call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Upon sentencing, Judge M Fitton QC commented: “This was a sophisticated fraud over a period of time and your principal motivation was financial commitments you could not meet.”

HMRC are now seeking to recover the takings of Stoneham’s crimes.

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