Jail for Drive Laying Family: The Tax Fraud Five

Husband and wife John and Brigid Coffey, and their children Michael, Mary and Helen were sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today after pleading guilty to tax evasion totalling £500,000 and other fraud offences in excess of £100,000.

The Coffey family consists of John, 49, Brigid, 51, Mary, 28, Helen 26, and Michael, 23. The family – who also use other names including Delaney, Kennedy, Blacks and Tawes  – own and live at a number of properties: including 2 farms and 2 houses near  Cardiff and a house in West Drayton in Middlesex.  At the time the criminal investigation started, they also owned and used 2 plots at a caravan site near Gloucester.

They were all directly or indirectly involved in the family’s driveway resurfacing and block paving business; but only father John and son Michael, declared any earnings: around £250 a week  jointly – and the 3 others claimed benefits.  The Coffey family’s bank accounts showed vast turnovers of money.  They invested in multiple properties paid for by cash or bankers drafts. They also purchased high value motor vehicles using false names.

They failed to notify HMRC and falsely notified HMRC of the true extent of their incomes.  In April 2009 the family members were charged with offences, including cheating the public revenue, benefit fraud and money laundering.   In 2010 guilty pleas were entered to 20 charges: including cheating the Revenue, and fraudulently taking steps to divert money from HM Treasury or to deprive HM Treasury of money to which it was entitled (i.e. non-payment of Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT).

£500,000 has already been restrained from the family’s 29 bank accounts – money that is now subject to confiscation proceedings.

His Honour Judge David Ticehurst, said:  “Each of you is dishonest and you chose a calculated form of conduct, false names and false accounts were used to hide money from the tax man… You John Coffey were the spider at the centre of the web of deceit; this was a wilful and deliberate failure to pay tax”.

John Coffey was sentenced to a prison term of 2 years and 9 months, (all counts to run concurrently) and must pay a confiscation order of ₤450,000 within 6 months, or face a further 4 years in jail.  Michael Coffey must pay a confiscation order of ₤50,000 within 6 months or he will face 15 months in jail.  John and Michael Coffey must each pay prosecution costs of ₤9,645 on or before 1st December 2012, and both have to fully pay their own defence costs.

Criminal Prosecutions
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