BUSTED: Brian Colwell

A BRITISH father and son have been captured in southern Spain after stealing more than €1 million in a VAT fraud.

Jamie Colwell, 51, will  begin his prison sentence of five years and three months today for stealing VAT repayments on new-build houses that never existed.

His father, Brian Colwell, 76, from Bournemouth, will start his two year and eight month jail term.

The pair were tracked down by the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators and Spanish police to a villa near Benidorm, where they were arrested by Guardia Civil officers on May 9.

They were returned to the UK yesterday and were immediately taken into custody overnight before appearing at Bournemouth Crown Court by video link on May 24.

The men are now starting their jail terms for their part in the VAT repayment fraud.

Richard Wilkinson, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“The Colwells thought they could evade prison and use their criminal cash to fund a new life on the Costa Blanca but they were wrong.

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: Jamie Colwell

“With close cooperation from our international law enforcement partners we tracked the fugitives down, so they can now look forward to jail instead.

“HMRC is determined to ensure absconders face justice. We will pursue those criminals who blatantly steal from the public services we all rely on, and look to recover the proceeds of their crimes from current and future wealth.

“We encourage anyone with information about tax fugitives or suspected tax fraud to report it online, or to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Judge Fuller QC, said that future sentencing will take place for the breach of bail.

The men had travelled separately to France in January 2018 before crossing the border into Spain.

Jamie escaped by plane to northern France, and Brian had crossed the Channel by ferry from Portsmouth to Caen.

The pair, along with Jamie’s former partner Briony James, 45, from Salisbury, had claimed to have spent £14 million building new houses, to fraudulently claim VAT repayments totalling £965,897, but a HMRC investigation revealed not a single brick had been laid.

Jamie Colwell was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment, and Brian Colwell to a jail term of two years and eight months.

Briony James was jailed for 20 months. Confiscation is being pursued.

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