Cornwall

Film producer Richard Driscoll jailed for three years for VAT fraud

Richard Driscoll
Image caption Richard Driscoll made films with Norman Wisdom and Rik Mayall

A film producer from Cornwall who was found guilty of a £1.5m VAT fraud has been jailed for three years.

Richard Driscoll, 53, who ran Higher Nanpean Film Studios, near Four Lanes, Redruth, falsified invoices for the costs of making films, the trial heard.

He claimed VAT back based on production costs of more than £9m when the actual costs were less than £1m.

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court, the judge said the fraud was "professionally planned".

Bogus invoices

Driscoll made the horror comedy Eldorado, described as the first modern film to be shot in the 3D format.

It starred Peter O'Toole and also featured the last film appearance of Kung Fu and Kill Bill actor David Carradine, who died in 2009.

He also produced horror films including Evil Calls, which was released in 2008, and featured performances from Norman Wisdom, Rik Mayall and Jason Donovan.

Driscoll, of Wendron, Helston, was found guilty on 5 June of conspiracy to defraud VAT between January 2009 and September 2011.

Sentencing, Judge Pegden said: "In my opinion this was professionally planned.

"You used your filming expertise for the content of bogus and false invoices."

After sentencing, investigators from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said they "unravelled a complex and organised VAT fraud that Driscoll knew was against the law".

HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation Paul Barton said: "Driscoll falsified invoices for the costs of making films in order to reclaim VAT that he was not entitled to, and set up a number of associated companies that were used solely to commit the crime."

Bogus invoices were sent to support false repayment claims and other invoices were genuine but had their values inflated, Mr Barton said.

As well as his prison term, Driscoll was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

As well as making films, Driscoll starred in them under his acting name of Steven Craine and operated a sound effects library.

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