67-year-old gambling-addicted Suffolk scrap dealer must repay £115,000 after tax fiddle or face jail
- Credit: PA
A gambling-addicted scrap metal dealer who defrauded the public purse in a tax fiddle has been ordered to pay back £115,000.
Terence Freeland, of Mill Road, Badingham, near Woodbridge, was previously given a 20-month prison sentence suspended for two years by Ipswich Crown Court.
The 67-year-old had admitted VAT fraud.
At his Proceeds of Crime hearing the court heard the amount Freeland had benefitted from his crimes came to £197,000 following further work from HM Revenue and Customs officers.
However, Freeland’s assets - which were those from a house he bought in the name of George Browne - came to only £115,000. Therefore, a confiscation order was made for that amount.
He now has six months to pay up or will face 27 months in prison if he defaults.
Following the hearing Dave Cowie, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HM Revenue and Customs said: “Freeland defrauded HMRC and the wider-tax paying public to fund his criminal lifestyle.
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“The confiscation order shows that our work does not end at sentencing.
“We will also pursue the proceeds of crime so that criminals do not benefit financially from their activities.
“This sends a clear warning - we will pursue you for your crimes, and then we will pursue you for your illicit gains.”
At Freeland’s sentencing it was said he should have paid a total of £77,375 in VAT between April and December 2011.
Instead, all but two “derisory” payments of £375 and £370, were filed as “nil return”, leaving a shortfall of £76,630, which he had gambled away.
Jeremy Rendle, for Freeland, described the fraud as “crude” and said it was not professionally planned.
Freeland was said to have off-loaded scrap metal onto a separate company and failed to pass on the VAT he was paid.
“It was opportunist,” Mr Rendle said.
“He met someone, put two and two together and rather than acting the proper way he acted improperly.”
Mr Rendle suggested the fraud was “exclusively motivated” by his gambling addiction, from which he was now recovering.
He also highlighted Freeman’s remorse, ill-health and his role as sole carer for his adult son as grounds for personal mitigation.
Sentencing Freeland last year Judge David Goodin said Freeland had a criminal record “spattered with dishonesty”.
However, he said he had been “narrowly persuaded” by the defence.
After the hearing additional work was carried out by officers who found Freeland’s criminal benefit was actually £197,000.