Oswestry businessman in £40,000 VAT scam

A fraudster from Shropshire illegally claimed more than £40,000 in VAT credit over three years in a bid to cope with his financial difficulties, a court has heard.

Alan Devere raked in £41,741 between 2009 and 2012 after making claims in connection with his Oswestry-based computer repair firm Analysed PC Solutions.

Custom & Excise officials became suspicious of Devere’s actions when he put in a claim for a VAT refund on £19,000 of Ryanair flights, Shrewsbury Crown Court was told.

Mr Dean Easthope, for Devere, said his client had been struggling to pay the mortgage on the family’s home and had started to suffer from money problems.

Devere, 52, formerly of Artillery Road in Park Hall, Oswestry, had admitted fraudulently obtaining VAT credit at an earlier hearing. He was handed a suspended eight month prison sentence and was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work in the community when he appeared at court yesterday.

Judge Robin Onions said he had decided to suspend the sentence after hearing Devere was the main carer for his severely disabled son.

The court was told that in September 2012 Devere put in a claim for VAT refunds of £13,052 in connection with his business.

Concerns were raised over whether it was a bona fide claim and investigations began into that claim and previous claims of £9,712 and £9,752, which led to Devere’s arrest.

Judge Onions said: “A company which fixes home computers in rural Shropshire would not expect to be spending £25,000 on advertising and £19,000 on Ryanair flights.”

Mr Easthope said Devere had gone bankrupt in 1995 and had worked 70 hours a week at two jobs. He said when Devere’s severely disabled son was born the family carried out adaptations at the home at Park Hall and had a mortgage of £1,100 a month.

“He had been too optimistic over what he could earn to pay the mortgage and got into financial difficulties.”

Mr Easthope said the family had recently moved out of the house into social housing.

Judge Onions said he would consider making a compensation order. “In one way or another he will pay he money back,” he said.