A Truro man has been sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for stealing more than £44,000 in fraudulent VAT repayments.

Martin William Staines, 66, of Richards Crescent, Truro, submitted false VAT returns to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) between May 1, 2006 and October 31, 2016.

The self-employed gardener/builder submitted returns containing fictitious figures with the purpose of claiming VAT repayments he was not entitled to.

Colin Spinks, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Staines tried to get away with stealing from UK taxpayers by deliberately creating a false paper trail so that he could claim money that he was not entitled to. He manipulated a system that exists for the benefit of legitimate companies with the sole purpose of lining his own pockets.

“HMRC will continue to pursue criminals who attack the tax system and we ask anyone with information about suspected VAT fraud to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Staines pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at a hearing at Truro Crown Court on Friday 15 June 2018. The total value of the fraud was £44,679.53. Staines was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, on the same day.