Breeder Avoids Jail For Tax Fraud



Breeder avoids jail for tax fraud
14th May 2018

By Sandra Pearce
A dog breeder has pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of tax and VAT.
The court heard that Kevin Knox, who owns Ivy Leaf Kennels, in Durham, racked up an illegal £81,000 VAT bill between 2008 and 2016.
Judge Stephen Earl ordered Knox to carry out 230 hours of unpaid work and pay £600 costs. He suspended Knox’s 20-month sentence for two years, but slammed his ‘heinous’ scam.
From the dock, Knox said: “I’m still allowed to trade.”
Complaints had flooded in about dogs bought from the kennel dying within weeks.
The 58-year-old said in court: “I’ve not been refused a licence yet - I have been trading.”
However, Durham County Council said both Knox’s pet shop and breeding licences have now expired.
The court heard he has been made bankrupt and is in the process of losing the family home he’d built himself.
Knox’s tax dodge lasted eight years.
HRMC investigators came upon it due to a discrepancy with a freebie offered with every dog. Each dog sold at the Burnhope kennel came with four weeks of free insurance.
But the number of policies didn’t match the number of dogs he was selling.
Police became involved after it emerged Knox had skimmed cash from both his VAT and income tax bills.
“He made admissions in his interview that he had not been as honest as he could have been,” said prosecutor Graeme Cook.
Knox pleaded guilty in March to fraudulent evasion of tax and VAT.
Both the CPS and Knox’s solicitors had forensic accountants scour his finances with the defence claiming it was £55,000 less than the crown’s claim.
However the court heard he’d racked up an illegal £81,000 VAT bill alone between 2008 and 2016, and faced up to four years behind bars.
In mitigation, it was said Knox had no previous convictions while his wife was largely dependent on his finances, which were ‘precarious’.
Judge Stephen Earl slammed his ‘heinous’ scam and said: “This is no different to someone fiddling their benefits.
 “The lifestyle that you have enjoyed is as a result of you putting money in your pockets that you are not entitled to. If people don’t pay the right amount than someone else will have to.”
Michael Yeadon, Durham County Council's health protection manager, said the pet shop and dog breeding licences have expired. “We do have an outstanding renewal application for the pet shop licence which we have, until very recently, been unable to determine as a result of a specified information and records not being made available to us for inspection.
“We have now been provided with this data and will be determining the application as soon as possible, in accordance with the criteria set out in the relevant legislation.”