A FERMANAGH teenager who tried to steal almost £60,000 has become the third member of his family to admit his part in a major VAT fraud at Dungannon Crown Court.
John James Moane, 18, of Teighshill Road, Brookeboro, admitted possession of articles for use in fraud that included a number of invoices from three companies from three in which the year ‘11’ had been altered to ‘13’ and invoices for the supply and or exchange of machinery which had neither not been supplied or exchanged.
All the alleged offences were committed in January 2014.
The agricultural student had originally faced six charges including one of giving a false VAT return in January 2014 and five charges of having articles in connection with fraud.
However these did not go ahead after his guilty plea to a single charge of possessing articles for use in fraud.
His 47-year-old father, Gerard Moane of the same address was jailed for 16 months for his part in a six-year, £1.75m VAT fraud last year.
A total of £765,547.45 was lost to the revenue as a result of that fraud.
At Mr Moane snr’s sentencing trial, he claimed that he had been under pressure from loyalist paramilitaries to defraud the VAT man.
But Judge Gemma Loughran said she could not accept or act on his allegations, as it did not form any part of his defence case.
And despite many glowing references, she would be “abdicating my duty to justice if I allowed personal mitigating factors to influence me unduly” for what was clearly a well planned professional fraud from the outset.
The student’s 44 year-old mother, Dympna Moane, of Eschnillogue, Teigshill, Brookeboro, admitted submitting a false VAT return claiming Moane Contracts Ltd was entitled to receive a VAT repayment of E19,600 on April 30 2012.
The “hard working farmer’s wife” was given a three year jail sentence suspended for three years in Dungannon Crown Court also last year.
Her Honour Judge McReynolds gave John James Moane a two year probation order and ruled that he perform 85 hours of community service that was lacking in him.
The judge said the defendant came from a family who apparently had difficulty in ‘rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’
She added that the total fraud in the case had been for £25,816 and no money had been lost to the Revenue.
The judge said it was quite bizarre that a person under 18 could be registered for VAT while they could not be in charge of a sharp pointed instrument for machinery on the farm.
The judge said this was clearly either a ‘very blatant or very crude case’ depending on your point of view.
She noted the early plea, the previous good character and it was also a single fraud and was not on-going.
Judge McReynolds added there were no real aggravating factors and the defendant had a good work and educational track record.
A prosecutor told the court earlier that revenue officers interviewed the defendant in the company of his mother in January 2014.
VAT records showed a claim for a Holland Tractor from Brian Keyes Ltd to the value of £58,000 that had not been supplied.
Another matter related to a Manitou Telescopic Handler from Northern Lift Trucks at a cost of £63,600 had not been exchanged.
As the defendant had got no repayment, there was no confiscation, the court heard.
Defence Counsel, Paddy Lyttle said his client potentially had a very good defence that could have got an acquittal in front of a jury.
His client was adamant he was pleading guilty.
However, prosecution said they were confident of putting the case to a jury.
But the defence counsel added his client was a hard-working young man who had educational attainments including City and Guilds qualifications.
His qualification lay outside farming and a conviction would be a ‘a major job deterrent and a stain on his career’.
The counsel said the case had been hanging over his client for almost three years but he was still able to get on with his life and achievements.
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