South Shields failed businessman jailed for £76,000 VAT fraud

Mark Esdaile was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court
Mark Esdaile was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court

A failed businessman from South Tyneside has been put behind bars for a £76,000 VAT fraud.

Mark Esdaile quickly realised that his firm Contact Me Solutions, a gas and electricty contract company, was not going to succeed but continued to claim VAT through the defunct firm.

Newcastle Crown Court heard between 2013 and 2016, the 35-year-old submitted 21 fraudulent returns, which resulted in him pocketing payments of £76,117.

It was further claims for £6,607 that sparked an investigation into Esdaile's business affairs and resulted in the proceedings being brought against him.

Esdaile, of Rosa Street, South Shields, confessed that "every single claim", apart from a few at the start of his business, was fraudulent.

The court heard Esdaile has previous convictions for theft by employee and has received suspended prison terms in the past.

Judge Robert Spragg sentenced him to 22 months behind bars.

The judge told him: "In interview you admitted the offence, saying you set the business up, putting false VAT returns in, to benefit yourself financially.

"You said every single VAT claim submitted was fraudulent, apart from a few you claimed that were legitimate, at the beginning.

"Quickly you accepted the business wasn't working and, after a few transactions, everything else was fraudulent."

The court heard the company Esdaile set up is no longer trading.

Judge Spragg added: "It as a sophisticated offence, over a sustained period of time.

"The amount you received was £76,117."

The court heard Esdaile, who is in a settled relationship with a family, has a history of anxiety and depression and has managed to overcome addictions to drugs, alcohol and gambling.

He submitted character references to the court about his normally positive behaviour and troubled past.

But the judge told him: "In my judgement, these offences are so serious only a immediate custodial sentence is appropriate."

Mark Esdaile

Mark Esdaile