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Game over for football fan fraudster

Press Release   •   Jan 27, 2016 15:26 GMT

A Liverpool man who evaded over £91,700 of VAT and then fled to Benidorm to hide from the taxman, has been jailed after returning to the UK to attend an Everton home game.

Routine checks by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), revealed that Damian O’Hagan, 60, of Norris Green, the director of Foodservice Interim Management Limited, had kept the VAT he had charged one client between 2009 and 2014, even though his business wasn’t VAT registered.

When he realised his fraud had been discovered O’Hagan tried to register his company for VAT to cover up his crime. Before the application was processed, he moved to Benidorm to run a bar but couldn’t resist returning to watch his favourite team play in August 2015. He was arrested at the turnstile as he tried to enter the ground.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“O’Hagan knew his business transactions were under scrutiny and the game was up. This was one match he wasn’t going to win. He chose to pocket the VAT he had collected from his client, at the expense of UK taxpayers and because of his dishonesty he has been jailed today.

“He now faces a full confiscation hearing to recover the money he stole from the public purse. If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

On 27 January 2015, O’Hagan was sentenced to 18 months jail after pleading guilty to VAT fraud at Liverpool Crown Court during an earlier hearing in December.

Notes for editors

1.Damian O’Hagan, DOB 18/08/55, of Homestall Road, Norris Green, Liverpool, Merseyside, sole director was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court today after pleading guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of Value Added Tax by charging Value Added Tax for services provided by Foodservice Interim Management Limited while it was not registered for Value Added Tax contrary to section 72(1) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 on 21 December 2015. O’Hagan owed £91,761 in VAT.

2.Following routine checks by HMRC into his business invoices, O’Hagan left the UK to run the Neptune Bar in Benidorm in January 2015. He returned to Liverpool to attend an Everton v Manchester City football match and was arrested by Merseyside Police at the Goodison Park ground gate on 23 August 2015 on the request of HMRC to face fraud charges.

3.During evidence O’Hagan’s Scottish client, based in Glasgow gave an impact statement detailing how this VAT fraud had resulted in a matching £111,000 financial loss for them and the redundancy of two employees due to subsequent cash flow issues.

4.Anyone with information regarding fraud is encouraged to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online via:

5.Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

6.HMRC's Flickr channel:

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.