A PR CONSULTANT who evaded almost £100,000 in taxes over a 12-month period has been spared a custodial sentence after a three-week trial.
Richard Hillgrove will undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £5,000 costs in addition to a 15-month jail term, suspended for two years, the Western Daily Press reports.
In 2011 and 2012, Hillgrove failed to pass HM Revenue & Customs £52,268 in VAT he had charged to his PR company's clients, while he also deducted £44,846 in PAYE and National Insurance from his employees, which he again failed to declare and pass on.
He denied dishonestly cheating the revenue, but was convicted on 26 March. He has filed intention to appeal his conviction, but he has yet to learn whether he will be granted permission to proceed.
Hillgrove has always maintained his innocence and has claimed he was set up.
Last month, Hillgrove "retaliated" against his conviction by performing the Maori Haka war dance at Glastonbury Tor.
In summing up, judge Robert Linford said he understood some of the extravagant spending could be explained by the expectation to entertain clients, but, he noted "it does not explain the trip to Madeira or the expensive 30th birthday party for your wife".
Hillgrove told the judge he was working five days a week in London in order to service £18,000 per month overheads.
Following the ruling, Hillgrove told Accountancy Age: "I am greatly relieved to be able to get back to work and pay the taxes owed which would not have been possible if I received a custodial sentence.
Hillgrove went on to suggest he was the first test case in suspicious activity reports (SARs) to the National Crime Agency when people or businesses are late filing returns.
"In my case I was servicing a tax debt in a different legal entity and delaying filing until that had been met," he said.
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