Supercar-loving father and son sentenced for £1.5m horse box VAT scam

Lavish lifestyle of Ferraris and Aston Martins revealed as duo who hid money in bathroom safe are sentenced after investigation into a £1.5m VAT fraud

Geoffrey Butchers pleaded guilty to VAT fraud in January 2018 and his son Phillip pleaded guilty to money laundering charges on 5 August 2019. Both men received sentences at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (4 September 2019).

Geoffrey Butchers was jailed for 26 months, while Phillip Butchers was handed a 20-month prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £2,000.

Geoffrey Butchers, 71, of Daventry, Northamptonshire, failed to declare any sales for his Horseboxseller business between 2007 and 2015 and both he and his son, Phillip, 30, lived a lavish lifestyle with the proceeds of the crime.

They drove around in Ferrari and Aston Martin cars and Phillip Butchers spent thousands of pounds on designer clothes while holidaying in Rio de Janeiro and Abu-Dhabi.

Geoffrey Butchers also lied about the true value of sales on a second business they set up in 2015, under the name Horseboxseller Ltd.

Investigators from HMRC searched the family home in July 2016 and recovered £42,000 from a safe hidden inside Phillips’s en-suite bathroom. The men refused to hand over the codes, but it was eventually opened and the money has since been forfeited.

Geoffrey Butchers first registered Autojoint for VAT in 2004 but then deregistered the company three years later and told HMRC he had stopped trading.

He continued to trade the business until 2015 but failed to submit any VAT returns. He then registered the Horseboxseller business for VAT in 2015, but lied on the subsequent returns.

Nick Stone, assistant director at HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: ‘This fraud funded an extravagant lifestyle these men could not legitimately afford. They hid more than £40,000 in a bathroom safe and drove around in supercars whilst other honest, hard-working people paid the taxes they owed.

‘We will now do all we can to recover the stolen cash from this father and son.’

​By Philip Smith

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