Yorkshire fish shop and takeaway owner carried out £75,000 tax fraud

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court

A fish shop and cafe owner cheated the taxpayer out of £75,000 during a seven-year VAT scam.

Justin Davis carried out the deception while he was the owner of two fish shops in Dewsbury and a chicken takeaway shop in Cleckheaton.

Leeds Crown Court heard Davis failed to hand over VAT collected from customers to the Inland Revenue.

Vincent Blake-Barnard, prosecuting, said Davis also falsified documents to over-inflate his expenses to fraudulently reclaim VAT.

The deception began in 2009 when Davis became the owner of Thornhill Fisheries.

The business closed in 2010 and Davis became the owner of of another fish shop called Frydays.

That business closed in 2014 but Davis continued to commit fraud when he became the proprietor of Hennie Penny's Chicken in Cleckheaton.

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The offending came to light in 2017 after Davis repeatedly postponed meetings with tax inspectors.

Davis eventually admitted to officials that he had carried out the offending due to financial difficulties.

The father-of-three said his wife had lost her job.

Davis, 35, of Manor Park Road, Cleckheaton, pleaded guilty to two offences of VAT fraud.

The total value of the offending was £75,045.

Probation officer Gohar Khan said Davis had worked as a parcel courier before setting up his first fish shop business in 2010.

He said the business was not as successful as he had hoped and he ended up with debts of £38,000.

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Mr Khan said Davis' financial problems continued when he took over the chicken takeaway.

The officer said Davis now ran a cafe in Cleckheaton with his brother and partner and earned around £200 per week.

Ken Green, mitigating, said the offending began through incompetence rather than a deliberate intention to commit fraud.

Mr Green added: "He is no businessman. He jumped from being a courier delivering parcels to actually running a business without any experience."

Davis was given a 22 month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder David Gordon said: "Your criminal behaviour is a mixture of deliberate deception but also incompetence when it came to dealing with the inevitable paperwork and bureaucracy that goes with that."