Sunderland car boot sale tax-dodgers must sell properties to pay back cash

Ronald Donkin
Ronald Donkin
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A COUPLE jailed for not paying tax on cash they made by trading at car boot sales have been ordered to surrender their assets or face going back to prison.

Gail Fox and Ronald Donkin made a small fortune by selling slimming pills, toothbrush heads and electrical items at fetes, fairs and over the internet.

Gail Fox

Gail Fox

The pair, of Helen Street in Sunderland, pocketed more than £250,000 between 2003 and 2010 but did not declare their earnings to the taxman.

Fox made an extra £90,000 by selling property on online auction site eBay.

They both admitted money-laundering during an earlier court hearing and were given prison sentences.

The pair, since released, were back at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday for a hearing under the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act. The court heard that they made £150,828 each out of their illegal dealings – adding up to more than £300,000.

Prosecutor Christopher Knox told the court that £225,654 held in the couple’s bank accounts has already been seized in a bid by the authorities to get the money back.

The rest will be met by releasing equity in two properties.

Mr Knox said: “Half of the cash is to be applied to reduce their individual liabilities, which will leave £22,500 in each case to be met, in practical terms, out of the equity of two properties.”

The pair have been given six months to pay the remaining £22,500 each or face up to 18 months in prison.

Mr Knox said an application can be made to the court to extend the six-month period if they struggle to raise the cash.

He told the court: “We accept it may be difficult to sell properties in Sunderland, and there may be difficulties. Subject to there being evidence of reasonable efforts to raise the money, the crown would be relaxed about an application to extend for a further six months if it can be shown they have made efforts and not been successful.”

During the previous hearing, Fox, 47, owned up to cheating the Inland Revenue out of almost £50,000 in unpaid taxes.

She also admitted a charge of mortgage fraud by giving false information while securing a loan to buy a council house.

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

Judge James Goss jailed Fox for 12 months and Donkin for nine months, though both are now free.

The judge told them at the time: “What I have to consider primarily here is that 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 her dishonesty stemmed from bad financial advice.