Jail for Limerick father and son VAT fraudsters

The Limerick father and son will now have to serve eight months in jail after a successful appeal by the DPP at the CCJ in Dublin this week

A FATHER and son who defrauded €225,000 in VAT payments to Revenue are to be jailed next Monday after the Court of Appeal overturned their previous suspended prison sentences in an ‘undue leniency’ application made by the DPP.

Last year, William Slattery (64) and his son Jonathan (36) of 68, The Forts, Dooradoyle were convicted of “consenting or conniving” to defraud the Revenue Commissioners through VAT returns and rebates over a three-year period.

They were both given three year suspended prison sentences, however the Director of Public Prosecutions claimed that undue leniency was given to the pair.

Between 2005 and 2008, the Slatterys made false claims in relation to four premises they owned and operated included a fish and chip shop in Ballycummin, Racefield, and Rosedale and a garage/shop in Clarina.

The fraud came to light when the business was subject to a random Revenue audit that revealed deficits of almost €225,000. It subsequently transpired that a number of the outlets run by the Slatterys were registered for the plastic bag levy but they failed to return the tax to Revenue.

VAT returns in respect of the fish and chip shops were calculated on the read-outs from cash tills but only every second reading was disclosed for VAT returns.

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A underpayment of €85,000 in VAT was detected and taking into account the missing records, an estimated total VAT loss of €224,000 was calculated.

Jonathan Slattery had a current account at the Bank of Ireland in Dooradoyle and William Slattery had a current account at AIB, Castletroy, with sums totalling €238,402.

€35,000 in compensation was paid, but there was little likelihood of any more money being recovered and Judge Tom O’Donnell imposed a three-year suspended sentence after hearing he vast nature of the fraud from a Revenue Compliance office.

This week, the court of Appeal gave its decision with Mr Justice John Edwards noting that the company’s record keeping appears to have been chaotic.

Cash registers at some of the businesses had certain functions “deliberately disabled”and that the VAT liabilities and irregularities arising out of Ballycummin premises involved “premeditated and deliberate fraud”.

The court determined that there was only “limited cooperation” in the course of the Revenue investigation and that the Slatterys made no admissions at interview and did not avail of the opportunity to make voluntary disclosures.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the Court of Appeal agreed with the DPP that the case merited a custodial sentence to be actually served.

The court determined an eight month sentence was the appropriate tariff after taking all mitigating and aggravating factors into account.

The father and son are required to present themselves at Henry Street garda station in Limerick on Monday, March 27 next.