Ipswich: Crooked hotel duo sentenced for fraud
16:23 31 December 2012
THE manager and a director of an Ipswich hotel who dishonestly tried to claim £14,500 in VAT repayments have been ordered to do unpaid work in the community.
Colin Frost and Edward Roberts submitted forged invoices for refurbishment work at the former Station Hotel, opposite Ipswich railway station, in a bid to claim the repayments but were found out before any money was repaid, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Frost, 49, of Burrell Road, Ipswich, and Roberts, 46, of Brickfield Close, Ipswich, had both denied taking steps with a view to the fraudulent evasion of VAT between June 2011 and January 2012.
Last month a jury at Ipswich Crown Court found Frost guilty unanimously but found Roberts guilty by an 11-1 majority verdict.
At their sentencing hearing last week, Frost was given an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work.
Roberts was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work.
They were each ordered to pay £1,254 costs.
The court heard that Frost, who was manager and financial director at the hotel in Burrell Road, told investigators he had employed a man called Dave Robinson to carry out improvement work at the hotel and had paid invoices for work carried out at the end of each month.
He said he had only realised there was something wrong with the invoices when a VAT officer noticed they didn’t have a VAT number on them. Frost said Mr Robinson told him he would get the number for him but after that he had been unable to get in touch with him.
When Frost got in touch with the company on the letterhead on the invoices he was told the people who had been doing work at the hotel weren’t anything to do with the company.
Frost said Mr Robinson had brought in an electrical company to help with refurbishment work at the hotel and it was only after he had submitted the electrical company’s invoices to reclaim VAT that he discovered that a VAT number he had been given for the company was for a business in Cornwall which had never done any work in Suffolk.
At the time the defendants were running the Station Hotel, which was leased from Punch Taverns by a company of which Roberts was the sole director and shareholder, and Frost had been the manager and financial director of the hotel.
Officers who investigated the VAT claim discovered they had been given fabricated invoices for work carried out at the hotel and didn’t pay out any money to the defendants.
Roberts told investigators he was dyslexic and had left Frost to fill in forms.