A COUPLE from Puriton who cheated the taxman out of more than £500,000 by not declaring earnings from their Tarmac business have been jailed.

Samuel Jones, 53, and wife Lorraine Jones, 47, of Downend Road, were jailed for four years and three-and-a-half years respectively at Bristol Crown Court.

Lorraine Jones had pleaded guilty to one charge of cheating the revenue of Income Tax and National Insurance and a second charge of failing to charge VAT and failing to file VAT returns.

Her husband had denied two identical charges but was found guilty after a trial.

The court heard the couple had initially denied running a Tarmac business when their lucrative scheme was discovered, claiming the portfolio of cash, property and flash cars they had built up were paid for by an inheritance and gambling.

During this time the Joneses built a £1.6million portfolio of eleven properties in the Weston and Bridgwater areas, and invested £1.4m cash in various bank accounts.

They purchased three Porsche 911s using false names and bought a Range Rover and several Mercedes E, B and ML models.

Sentencing, Judge Martin Picton told the couple: “This was an exercise in tax evasion, it persisted for a decade, was breath taking and wholly deliberate, deeply dishonest and carefully thought through with one objective to evade tax.”

HMRC investigations revealed the couple used over 80 bank accounts to launder their business funds, including their three children’s bank accounts and accounts in the false name of ‘John Pope’, an alias used by Samuel Jones.

A confiscation timetable has been set down by the court to remove the proceeds of their crimes.

Speaking after the sentence, Simon De Kayne, from HMRC, said: “This couple had a blatant disregard for the UK tax system; they simply didn’t bother with it.

“This gave them a completely unfair and illegal advantage over business competitors and robbed the Exchequer of vital revenue.

“At the same time they amassed a sizeable property and financial portfolio which was largely funded by their criminality.”