A market trader from Devon has been jailed for stealing more than £900,000 in VAT repayments to fund a gambling addiction.
Terence Sickelmore, 55, of Honiton, submitted dozens of fake VAT returns for his business to fraudulently claim repayments of £913,729, a 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.”
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.