A businessman has been put behind bars for continuing a £76,784 fiddle with false VAT claims despite the taxman closing in on him.
Planning consultant Gordon Armitage, 74, claimed to be short of cash as he awaited the completion of a land deal which could have netted £240,000, Derby Crown Court heard.
But Judge Stuart Rafferty QC said the pensioner might have been able to raise cash on his £350,000 home and told him: “Her Majesty’s Revenue came and investigated.
“You didn’t even blink, carried on, and the bill went up.
“If this was not professional planning and persistence, it is as close as you can get.
“You were not entitled to one penny piece and at the moment people in this country are suffering.
“The government and exchequer is on its uppers and it doesn’t need people like you preying upon it as you did.”
A 15-month prison term was imposed on Armitage, of Ashover Road, Ashover, who admitted fraud.
A fresh court hearing will be arranged to claw back the VAT.
Christopher Gabbitas, prosecuting, said Armitage set up a land development consultancy in March 2008. Armitage submitted 22 returns claiming back VAT on bills for work done.
But, according to the court, investigators found they were invented and were quotes for jobs which had never been carried out.
Some were on old letterheads and he sent one in from a firm which was in receivership.
Mr Gabbitas told Derby Crown Court: “These were clearly false dishonest invoices.” Armitage was initially questioned by civil servants on March 8.
Nicola Hornby, defending, said Armitage accepts he will repay the money to HMRC, that the land deal was expected to go ahead and he had built up debts.
The court heard Armitage was previously jailed in 1988 for theft and forging a valuable security.
He was also disqualified as a company director and previously jailed in 2002 for procuring services of a councillor in a land deal.