A market trader from Devon has been jailed for stealing more than £900k in VAT repayments to fund a gambling addiction.
Terence Sickelmore, 55, of High Street, Honiton, submitted dozens of fake VAT returns for his business to fraudulently claim repayments of £913,729, a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.
Sickelmore was a co-owner of Dairy World, a dairy products business in Exmouth Market. From October 2010 to August 2018, he used the company accounts to create 95 bogus VAT returns.
He was caught when HMRC reviewed his VAT returns and identified irregularities. Sickelmore immediately admitted to submitting the bogus claims to fund his gambling addiction.
Zoe Ellerbeck Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Sickelmore abused his position as a business owner to steal huge amounts of money that should have been used to fund public services. He chose to fund his gambling by stealing from UK taxpayers. The money he stole is equivalent to the wages of 30 newly qualified paramedics for a whole year.
“We want to level the playing field for all businesses to operate fairly and we will pursue those who are stealing public money. Tax fraud is a serious crime and I ask anyone with information about those who may be involved to report it online, or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Sickelmore admitted VAT fraud at Exeter Magistrates Court on 30 July 2019. He was sentenced to three years in prison at Exeter Crown Court on 27 August 2019.
Notes for editors
1. Terence Sickelmore, DOB 03/11/1963, of High Street, Honiton, Devon, EX14. Sickelmore was charged with fraudulent evasion of Value Added Tax (VAT) by submitting false VAT returns to HM Revenue and Customs between 1 September 2010 to 31 August 2018 in respect of the purpose of obtaining VAT repayments and evading VAT liability to the total benefit of £913,729.33, contrary to Section 72(1) of the Value Added Tax Act (1994).
2. Sickelmore admitted to VAT fraud and was sentenced to three years in prison at Exeter Crown Court on 27 August 2019.
3. Sickelmore is no longer associated with the Dairy World business.
4. Paramedic salaries start at Band 5, which ranges from £23,023 to £29,608.
5. Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can contact HMRC online or call our hotline on 0800 788 887.
6. Follow HMRC’s press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice