Market stall owner blew £1million in VAT scam cash on gambling

PUBLISHED: 13:55 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:34 27 August 2019

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Archant

A market stall owner has been jailed for blowing £1million he swindled in a VAT fraud on gambling.

Terence Sickelmore inflated the turnover of his Dairy World business in Exmouth Indoor Market by a factor of ten so he could file online VAT claims which led to him being paid £9,000 a month by the taxman.

He ended up being paid £913,729 which he was not entitled to.

The 55-year-old has lost his home, his business and his marriage as a result of his fraud and plans to go round schools lecturing on the dangers of gambling addiction when he gets out of jail.

Sickelmore, formerly of Exmouth but now of High Street, Honiton, admitted VAT fraud and was jailed for three years by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: "I have no doubt whatsoever this offence, committed over years, was committed by reason of a devastating addiction to gambling which you found yourself in the grip of.

"You gambled online, in betting shops and other sources and were gambling in the region of £9,000 a month in a fairly unsophisticated way.

"You must have known you were suffering from this addiction and had every opportunity over eight years to seek help or try to stop."

Ian Graham, prosecuting, said between 2010 and 2018 Sickelmore made online claims for VAT credits of £933,869, when all he was actually entitled to was £20,139, meaning the total fraud was £913,729.

Sickelmore owned up to the entire scam as soon as he learned he was being investigated.

He said he had lost all the money in gambling and his bank accounts showed he had lost almost £700,000 in online casinos with the rest withdrawn in cash and blown on horses or slot machines.

Sickelmore told a probation officer that gambling had taken over his life.

Mark Watson, defending, said: "This case is a salutary lesson in the dangers of addiction.

"It is not only the addict who suffers, but their family and friends.

"He was living a second life.

"It was like setting fire to money.

"He bet on everything from roulette to Sun Bingo."

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