AN EDGEWORTH accountant avoided jail yesterday, after admitting trying to cheat HMRC out or £19,000 in VAT

Edward Humphrey, aged 39, of Edgeworth in Gloucestershire, admitted two charges of fraud and was sentenced to 8 months in jail suspended for a year.

Humphrey, who runs iCount Solutions South West Ltd, was also ordered to pay £3,342 compensation to HMRC.

Gloucester crown court heard how when facing financial difficulties, Humphrey pretended he was due a VAT refund on business premises he had bought from Ecotricity.

When HMRC looked into his claim, he supplied false paperwork and emails to investigators to try to prove he had made the purchase of a unit from Ecotricity.

The judge said: "You tried to extract £16,600 from them, whereas in fact you owed them a total of £2,500.

"When confronted by the Revenue, you compounded things by continuing to behave dishonestly.

"Lying and dishonesty seems to be your first port of call - that is a bad thing for a chartered accountant!”

Humphrey was caught when he was randomly chosen for a check on his claim he submitted for the period July-September 2015 and was asked to supply the relevant paperwork.

He claimed he had purchased a unit from Ecotricity and was due a £16,667 refund of VAT on the purchase.

The prosecutor said how Humphrey had sent in six invoices, one of which was false.

It was printed in a different style to Ecotrcity’s stamdard invoices, had the wrong VAT number for the firm and the name Ecotricity had even been misspelt.