Car boot tax dodgers jailed

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A COUPLE who evaded tax on more than £250,000 made by trading at car boot sales have been put behind bars.

Gail Fox and Ronald Donkin claim to have made their fortune by selling slimming pills, toothbrush heads and electric goods at local fetes, fairs and on the internet.

The pair, of Helen Street, Fulwell, pocketed £260,000 between 2003 and 2010, but did not declare their earnings to the taxman.

Fox made an extra £90,000 selling property on ebay.

They both admitted money laundering during an earlier court hearing.

Fox, 47, admitted her dishonesty amounted to cheating the Inland Revenue out of almost £50,000 in unpaid taxes.

She also admitted a charge or mortgage fraud in relation to her giving false information while securing a loan to buy a council house.

Donkin, 45, admitted failing to pay almost £35,000 in taxes owed.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when the couple were arrested Fox had £90,000 in savings held in bank accounts and Donkin had £180,000.

Their assets have now been frozen while prosecutors investigate them under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with the aim to permanently seize whatever cash or property they have.

Judge James Goss QC jailed Fox for 12 months and Donkin for nine months.

He said: “What I have to consider primarily here is for a period of about seven years between 2003 and 2010 you were engaged in trading goods, obviously on a very significant scale, in one form or another, upon which you failed to declare the earnings to the revenue and therefore over that period you failed to account to the revenue for a very substantial amount of earnings.

“I am satisfied it is necessary to mark the seriousness of your offences by sentences of imprisonment.”

Katherine Dunn, defending Fox, said the trading initially started out as a “hobby” which became increasingly lucrative and the dishonesty stemmed from bad financial advice.

Caroline Goodwin, defending Donkin, said the couple can pay back the money they owe to the revenue once their assets have been unfrozen.

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