A former police and local authority admin assistant who committed a £70,000 VAT fraud is trying to sell two of her homes in an effort to pay the taxman back and stay out of jail.
Wendy Gunn was warned last month that she faced prison after she pleaded guilty to falsifying VAT returns from HMRC.
The 61-year-old, who worked for Northern Constabulary and The Highland Council, inflated input and output figures for her husband James’s joinery business over a four-year period because “she couldn’t be bothered doing the books”.
Gunn, of Rearquhar, Dornoch, appeared for sentence at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday after a background report had been prepared.
But defence solicitor Willie Young asked Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood for a further deferral, explaining: “Restitution will be important to the court. She is marketing her own home but there were some delays due to the bad weather.
“There is also a property she inherited from her mother which has been up for sale for two years.
“An offer has been received although missives have not been completed.
“There is a date of entry for the end of April.”
Sheriff Fleetwood accepted restitution could influence the sentence he imposed, adding: “I will defer sentence again until early May and I will look at it again.”
Gunn admitted being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT to induce the HMRC to make repayments to which she was not entitled. The court heard she told tax inspectors that she “made up” the figures.
Fiscal depute Michelle Molley told the court that Mr Gunn was registered for Value Added Tax as a sole proprietor trading as a joiner.
When Gunn retired in 2006, HMRC received from Mr Gunn written consent allowing his wife to deal with his tax affairs in relation to both VAT and self-assessment.
But the court was told that inspectors became suspicious from 2010 because the figures she declared didn’t match up.
“Although increased output would not generally result in VAT repayments, in this particular case the inflated figures did result in direct repayments of VAT,” Ms Molley added.
“When she was asked whether the figures in the VAT returns were correct or if they had been falsified for the purpose of obtaining VAT repayments, she confirmed that the figures were made up.
“Her explanation was that she could not be bothered doing the books and she was aware that the false figures she had entered would result in repayments to which her husband’s business was not entitled.”
Gunn will re-appear for sentence on May 11.