A car dealer who was jailed for four years has had his sentence halved on appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. The man was jailed for four years for failure to pay over 200,000 in VAT. The defendant had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to pay VAT on over 100 vehicles between 2003 and 2006. All of the money was repaid to the Revenue. It was heard that Mr Hughes had fraudulently used a VAT number from a company for which he had once worked. Tax and the Law and in particular the Criminal Code can be quite unforgiving for what is more commonly referred to as “white collar” crime.
The original sentence of four years was arguably harsh given the fact that all the money was repaid, the State were saved a lengthy trial as the Defendant pleaded guilty and there were no previous convictions. Clearly the Court of Criminal Appeal felt that a lesser sentence was more appropriate given the factors in favour of the defendant. Here we see the mindset of the Bench when dealing with the interplay of Tax and the Law.
It can be frightening being caught in this position as we well know from advising clients who get themselves caught up in these tangled affairs.