Pub landlady avoids jail after admitting £100,000 VAT fraud

A pub landlady carried out a £100,000 tax fraud by submitting fictitious VAT returns, a court heard.

Sharon Roy-Munro, who ran the Ferry Boat Inn in the village of Church Laneham, used the false returns to obtain tax refunds for the business.

Lincoln Crown Court

Lincoln Crown Court

Jonathon Dee, prosecuting at Lincoln Crown Court on Tuesday, said Roy-Munro not only submitted the false returns when she was running the pub but continued to submit them for months after she went out of business.

The fraud came to light when the VAT authorities carried out checks on her business because they had received VAT returns over a lengthy period which resulted in regular refunds being paid out.

Mr Dee said: “The VAT authorities became concerned and began an investigation. This started at the pub which the defendant was purporting to run. She wasn’t there.

“An alternative address was found for her in York. In December 2017 she was visited by the investigating officers.

“Mrs Roy-Munro accepted straight away that the claims were false. She said she and her husband were made bankrupt in 2015 and she had continued to submit VAT returns as if she was still trading.

“A total of 36 VAT returns were submitted seeking payments back from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Three quarterly returns were made in 2014 and thereafter monthly returns were made. A total of £111,821 was repaid to them.”

Roy-Munro was interviewed and admitted she had not kept proper accounts while running the pub. She said the tenancy of the Ferry Boat ended because she and her husband were made bankrupt.

Mr Dee said “She said she submitted the false returns because they needed a source of income.”

Sharon Roy-Munro, 50, of Heworth Road, York, admitted a charge of knowingly being involved in the fraudulent evasion of Value Added Tax between April 3, 2014, and October 31, 2017. She was given a two-year jail sentence suspended for two years and 200 hours of unpaid work.

A hearing to consider the confiscation of her assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act was deferred until July.

Judge Andrew Easteal said: “It seems beyond question that when you and your husband embarked on the business that you did so with only legitimate intentions and no doubt a great deal of enthusiasm and optimism.

“Looking at the way this unfolded those positives must have disintegrated very rapidly until barely a year later the harsh reality dawned that you were facing bankruptcy.

“Over a period of three and a half years you cheated the Revenue of well in excess of £100,000.

“What you did on the face of it richly deserves you being sent to prison today right now. It is by the very finest of margins that I am persuaded not to take that course.”

Danielle Graham, in mitigation, said that after Roy-Munro’s tenancy of the pub ended she also lost her accommodation: “The money was spent on day to day living expenses.

“There are mitigating factors. This is a woman of good character. She had demonstrated her remorse by way of her early admissions to the Revenue.

“A significant amount of time has passed since the offending came to light in December 2017. She has been fully aware of the potential outcome of these proceedings since then. During that time she has managed to stay out of trouble and has obtained a job in the pub trade.

“She has brought shame on her family. She is not someone who is ever likely to come before these courts again.”