Sunset Drives and Landscapes Limited Directors Sentenced
Five members of a family pleaded guilty to 20 tax evasions and other fraud offences between 2001 and 2008. The family were earning millions of pounds from two resurfacing and block paving businesses, B&B Welsh Paving and Sunset Drives and Landscapes Ltd, which was set up in 2006 to deliberately conceal the extent of their business revenues.
Husband and wife John and Brigid Coffey and their children Michael, Mary and Helen avoided paying £500,000 in taxes, fraudulently claimed £100,000 in benefits and were able to pass almost £2million through their 35 bank accounts by using false names and documents.
The work that John and Michael Coffey carried out posed as Sunset Drives and Landscapes Ltd was found unsatisfactory by many of their customers who faced threats and intimidation for payments of up to £16,000 for the work completed. One customer claimed he got a quote for a job and went away on holiday to think about it, only to find his drive already relaid when he returned.
In 2010, at Bristol Crown Court, John Coffey and Michael Coffey pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulently taking steps to divert money from HM Treasury or to deprive HM Treasury of money to which it was entitled.
John Coffey also admitted two counts of knowingly using a false Irish driving licence. He was described by Judge David Ticehurst as the ‘spider’ at the centre of a web of deceit and added: “It’s individuals like you that give the travelling community a bad name […] These taxes are used to fund hospitals, schools, nurses and roads. You, however, choose not to pay tax and to falsely claim benefits of which you were not entitled.”
John Coffey was sentenced for two years and nine months and was ordered to repay his tax evasion amount of £450,000 in full within 28 days. His son, Michael Coffey, avoided paying £50,000 in tax; he was given a sentence of 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and was told by the Judge he would have to repay the money in full.
Andrew Biker, of CPS Central Fraud Division, said: “No income was ever declared by John Coffey to the Inland Revenue despite him working all his life in the tarmac and block paving industries. […] People can rest assured that the CPS will do all it can to deprive these criminals of their assets and put the money back where it belongs – into the public purse.”