Crosby grocer sentenced for Tax fraud
A Merseyside man, who made ran a
grocery shop but paid no VAT for 4 years, has been sentenced for evading almost
£69,000 in Taxes.
David Leatherbarrow, 58, of Brentwood Avenue, Crosby, was the director of
Festival Sales (UK) Ltd, a company that traded from a shop in Aughton, Ormskirk,
During routine visits, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers discovered the
business was not registered for VAT despite weekly takings of about £20,000.
Leatherbarrow claimed the company had only been trading for 6 months, but HMRC
investigators found the shop had been a going concern since 2012.
Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:-
"Leatherbarrow lied about how long his business had been trading in a
misguided attempt to evade paying VAT and penalties. We identified more than a
million pounds worth of sales at this grocer's over the fraud period. In the
modern retail environment it is foolhardy to attempt to hide trading on this
scale from HMRC. Evading VAT isn't a victimless crime, it takes money out of the public services
that everyone in the UK relies on to maintain a level playing field for local
businesses. If you suspect fraud similar to this report it to the HMRC 24 hour
Hotline on:- 0800 788 887 or online via:-
Gov.UK; search for 'HMRC reporting fraud'."
3 days after the HMRC visit in June 2016, Leatherbarrow changed the company's
sole directorship to himself. He later admitted the company had been in his
son's name to disguise his own involvement due to a chequered business past.
This fraud was discovered as part of the:- 'HMRC Grocery and Retail Trade Taskforce'
and the 'HMRC VAT Hidden Economy Team' that check and audit local companies or
self employed individuals that attempt to evade Taxes by concealing their
On Monday, 14 August 2017, Leatherbarrow was sentenced to 16 months jail suspended for
2 years, at Liverpool Crown Court. He was also electronically tagged, issued with
a curfew for 6 months and has to do 150 hours community work. HMRC will now
begin work to recover the unpaid VAT plus any penalties.