Father and son jailed over £1m VAT fraud

A father and son duo have been jailed for seven years and 11 months for stealing £1m in VAT after being caught in Spain and extradited to the UK

Jamie Colwell began his prison sentence of five years and three months yesterday after stealing £1m in VAT repayments on new-build houses that never existed. His father, Brian Colwell, has also started his two year and eight-month jail term.

Jamie Colwell attempted to avoid jail by fleeing to France in a light aircraft, while his accomplice father escaped by ferry before they both headed to Spain. The pair were tracked down by HMRC investigators and overseas partners to a villa near Benidorm, where they were arrested by Guardia Civil officers on the evening of 9 May 2018.

The duo was returned to the UK on 23 May and immediately taken into custody before appearing at Bournemouth Crown Court via a video link on 24 May.

The pair along with Jamie’s former partner Briony James had claimed to have spent £14m building new houses, to fraudulently claim VAT repayments totalling £965,897, but a HMRC investigation revealed not a single brick had been laid. James was jailed for 20 months.

Richard Wilkinson, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: ‘The Colwells thought they could evade prison and use their criminal cash to fund a new life on the Costa Blanca but they were wrong. With close cooperation from our international law enforcement partners we tracked the fugitives down, so they can now look forward to jail instead.

‘HMRC is determined to ensure absconders face justice. We will pursue those criminals who blatantly steal from the public services we all rely on, and look to recover the proceeds of their crimes from current and future wealth.’

Report by Amy Austin

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