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Gainsborough woman avoids jail over £50k VAT fraud

Lincoln Crown Court
Lincoln Crown Court

A plumber who pocketed more than £50,000 from a tax fraud has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Anna Saxby-Spence, who ran the Gainsborough-based business RAS Plumbing and Heating, submitted fictitious VAT returns which led to her receiving large tax repayments.

Hal Ewing, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court: “She registered the plumbing company with the Revenue in September 2012 and submitted a total of 11 VAT returns up to the end of April 2015.

“A total of £56,850 was repaid by the Revenue to Mrs Saxby-Spence. She was operating as a plumber. It appeared that there were very large expenses to be paid out. One wouldn’t expect a large amount of repayment at all.”

As a result HMRC’s compliance unit carried out an investigation into the business in July 2015.

Mr Ewing said: “Two meetings with her were cancelled. The meeting finally took place in August 2015.

“She was asked about her business records. She said they were kept in a lock-up. Later she said they had been destroyed.

“But in September she handed over a bag of documentation to the investigating officer that included receipts.

“It included what purported to be evidence of spending that it would appear had been made up. She claimed to have spent £181,000 more on supplies than the business had done over the period.”

Anna Saxby-Spence, 45, of Middlefield Lane, Gainsborough, admitted to knowingly being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT between September 11, 2012, and April 30, 2015, by submitting VAT returns which contained false information.

She was given a 20-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

Judge Andrew Easteal said: “Everybody has to pay their taxes. It is easy to be tempted not to.

“I appreciate the pressures you were under and the difficulties you were having running your own business but people face far harder pressures than that and still abide by the law.”

Mark Watson, in mitigation, said Saxby-Spence had no previous convictions, adding: “It is now almost three years on from this.

“Her business has taken off to the point where her husband has quit his salaried paid job and they work together. She now has an accountant who is properly instructed and they do the books for her.”

Saxby-Spence denied three further charges of fraud relating to tax credits. The prosecution offered no evidence and she was cleared of those matters.