Fleeing tax cheats grounded over £1m phantom homes scam

Grant Prior 6 years ago
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Father and son tax fugitives are finally behind bars after being captured in Spain and extradited to the UK.

Jamie Colwell and Brian Colwell
Jamie Colwell and Brian Colwell

The £1m VAT fraudsters tried to avoid jail by fleeing to the Costa Blanca.

Former Sandbanks resident Jamie Colwell, 51, has now started his prison sentence of five years and three months for stealing almost £1m in VAT repayments on new-build houses that never existed.

His father, Brian Colwell, 76, of Bournemouth, has started his two year and eight month jail term.

The pair were tracked down by HM Revenue and Customs investigators to a villa near Benidorm and returned to the UK this week.

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.

His Honour Judge Fuller QC, said that future sentencing will take place for the breach of bail.

The pair along with Jamie’s former partner Briony James, 45, of Salisbury 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.

Both men were sentenced in their absence at Bournemouth Crown Court in January.

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