By Daniel Hunter
A butcher who stole £3.3m from the taxman to lead a luxury lifestyle after his business collapsed has been jailed following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Gary Turner, 47, of Morley, Yorkshire, was a successful businessman who owned concessions of Turner’s Butchers in local branches of Kwik Save. But when trade slowed in 1996 he used his business to siphon off taxpayers money, deceiving both his family and the tax authorities.
Turner spent his criminal cash remodelling a luxury family home as well as buying a bungalow for his son in the same street and treating his extended family to expensive villa holidays. He owned six high performance cars all with private registration plates, and splashed out on Fender electric guitars costing thousands and had a stash of luxury Rolex watches worth over £35,000.
When HMRC began to investigate Turner, he claimed his fictitious accountant had all of his paperwork. He lied to investigators about his accounts and provided fake business records to show his claims were genuine but his so-called main suppliers — the Botswana Meat Commission — had never heard of him.
Under questioning from HMRC officers Turner confessed to faking invoices and submitting false VAT repayment claims for amounts between £19,000 and £46,000. He admitted that he had consistently lied to the taxman, describing his business affairs from 1996 as ”all fake”. In reality, Turner had not made any legitimate business income since 1996.
“Tax fraud is a serious crime. Turner tried to play the system so he could live a life of luxury. He went to a great deal of effort to try to hide his lies but our investigators unravelled what he thought was a water-tight scam," Peter Hollier, HMRC Assistant Director for Criminal Investigation said.
Around £785,000 in assets has already been restrained by HMRC and confiscation proceedings are underway to recover Turner’s criminal profits.
“This crime was aggravated by greed, not need, and at the expense of the government and the taxpayer," HHJ Belcher said in court:
"Your crime hits all members of society; you have deprived the government of money and the NHS has been deprived also — the money could have been spent by the NHS. You and your family were the sole beneficiary of this crime.”
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