Father and son team of £1m VAT fraudsters to pay back just £1

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Jamie Colwell (left) masterminded the £1m scam alongside father Brian

FRAUDSTERS who took part in a £1m VAT scam have both been ordered to repay just £1 because of their lack of assets.

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But should Jamie Colwell, who formerly lived in Friars Cliff, Christchurch, or his father Brian come into money in the future, they can be pursued by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

A woman who was their accomplice, Briony James, was told by Judge Jonathan Fuller QC at Bournemouth Crown Court to repay an initial sum of £1,500. The orders were made when the trio appeared for a confiscation hearing on Monday morning.

Afterwards a spokesman for HMRC stressed to the A&T it would be keeping tabs on them. “If they come into money we will be able to go after them,” he said.

“In terms of their assets, a lot of it [the flats or cars during the scam] were hire purchases. They didn’t own the stuff, hence the £1 order.”

He explained all three had admitted amounts by which they benefitted from the fraud and HMRC can pursue and seize any goods they come to own up to those respective values in the future.

The trio admitted charges relating to tax fraud around three years ago after a HMRC investigation. Jamie Colwell confessed to the full fraud of £965,897, Brian Colwell £178,487, and Briony James £316,335.

But only James showed up to the subsequent sentencing hearing and was jailed for 20 months. The Colwells had fled the country.

They were eventually tracked down to Malaga in Spain and arrested before being extradited back to the UK in late 2018. Jamie (52) was eventually sentenced to five years and eight months jail in total while Brian (77), was given three years and two months.

Both men were also banned from being company directors for 15 years. Briony James (46), and of Bouverie Road, Salisbury, was given a similar ban – but for a five-year period.

HMRC said the fraud was masterminded by Jamie, who set up Robert Lloyd Properties Ltd and Belgravia Construction Services (South) Ltd. He told HMRC the two firms had spent £14m starting development projects, but an investigation discovered not a single brick had been laid.

His father, a retired builder, was a director of both firms, while Briony James – his former partner – was a director of Robert Lloyd Properties. Jamie also posed as a fictional director called Martin Johnstone.

HMRC said the defendants used the businesses to claim fraudulent VAT repayments totalling nearly £966,000 between February 2009 and May 2015.

Jamie spent £113,000 renting a Sandbanks property and £64,000 on cars, while Brian had rented a four-bedroom Bournemouth home.

Briony James, a personal assistant and former equestrian and dressage competitor, spent over £100,000 stabling her horses and £40,000 on designer clothing.

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