A BUSINESSMAN from Henley who admitted pocketing £95,000 in unpaid VAT has been spared prison.
Geoffrey Edwards, 41, did not register his company, Edwards Estate Management Limited, in Woodley for VAT.
For two years he recorded payments by customers on his company invoices but kept the tax he charged.
Edwards, who lives in Gainsborough Road, Henley, was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday (21) to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.
Judge Reddihough said Edwards would have been jailed had he not sold his former family home in Woodley to pay back the debt.
He added: “The courts regard fraudulent evasion of tax, especially in the present economic climate, as very serious. It was clear you were receiving VAT for work you were performing through your company and you failed to inform HMRC that you were receiving that money and to account properly for it to them.”
Edwards, who dissolved his company in April 2009, was arrested by HMRC officers on March 15 last year and pleaded guilty to VAT fraud on May 29 this year.
A confiscation hearing to recover the criminal proceeds from the fraud has been set for December.