Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds butcher Gary Turner jailed for tax offences

A butcher who cheated £3.3m from the taxman to lead a luxury lifestyle after his business failed has been jailed for five years.

Gary Turner, 47, of Grange Park Drive, Churwell, Leeds, used to own concessions of Turner's Butchers in local branches of Kwik Save.

When trade slowed in 1996 he used his business to siphon off money by falsifying VAT repayment claims.

Turner, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to cheating the public revenue.

Luxury home

Following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) he described his business affairs from 1996 as "all fake".

The court head Turner spent his criminal cash on a luxury lifestyle.

He remodelled a luxury family home and bought a bungalow for his son in the same street. He treated his extended family to holidays in villas.

He owned six high-performance cars all with private registration plates, and splashed out on Fender electric guitars costing thousands of pounds and had a stash of luxury Rolex watches worth more than £35,000.

Botswana Meat Commission

Judge Penelope Belcher said: "This crime was aggravated by greed, not need and at the expense of the government and the taxpayer. Your crime hits all members of society.

"You have deprived the government of money and the NHS has been deprived also, the money could have been spent by the NHS.

"You and your family were the sole beneficiary of this crime."

When he was first investigated by HMRC, Turner claimed a fictitious accountant had all his paperwork and provided fake business records but his so-called main suppliers, the Botswana Meat Commission, had never heard of him.

Under questioning, he admitted to submitting false VAT repayment claims for amounts between £19,000 and £46,000. He had not made any legitimate business income since 1996.

Around £785,000 in assets has already been restrained by HMRC and confiscation proceedings are under way to recover Turner's criminal profits.

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