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Dublin businessman addicted to blackjack jailed for VAT fraud

John Leamy pleaded guilty in court yesterday.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

A DUBLIN BUSINESSMAN who was addicted to playing blackjack and used fake invoices to fraudulently claim nearly €100,000 in VAT has been jailed for 18 months.

John Leamy began the scam after the breakup of his marriage when he was spending 15 hours a day in casinos and drinking heavily.

Leamy (51) of Aspen Lawn, Clonsilla, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of submitting incorrect VAT returns between January 2008 and February 2009, and two counts of failing to file annual tax returns for the years 2008 and 2009.

Judge Martin Nolan noted revenue offences were serious as the State needed funds to provide the services required by a modern society. He said he had sympathy for Leamy but felt he did deserved a custodial sentence. He imposed 18 months imprisonment.

The father of three was the sole owner and director of print brokerage company JT Digital Ltd. In 2009 his accountant Paschal Murphy noticed an error in the percentage of VAT applied in two invoices from Printscene, described as a supplier of JT Digital by Leamy.

No invoices

When Mr Murphy contacted Printscene to investigate he discovered the company had never issued the invoices. He reported the matter to the Revenue Commissioners as required by law.

An investigation followed and the scam was uncovered. Leamy used 16 fake invoices to claim €99,817.67 in VAT. He then wrote cheques payable to himself to draw cash from JT Digital for his personal use.

David Feeley of the Revenue Commissioners told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that he invited Leamy to his office in November 2012, where under questioning Leamy admitted he had provided the false information to his accountant.

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Marriage collapse

Martin Dully BL, defending, told Judge Nolan that Leamy was a reasonably successful businessman but fell on hard times in 2008 when his marriage ended and his problems with gambling and drinking became acute.

Mr Dully said Leamy began the fraud when his addictions meant he could no longer pay his mortgage or support his family and now found it difficult to cope with the shame over what he had done.

Leamy, who has no previous convictions, now lives with a friend, does not work and rarely leaves his room so as to avoid the temptations of alcohol and gambling, said Mr Dully.

Counsel added that Leamy now had an offer of employment for the first time in several years and was willing to repay the state “any earnings above subsistence level”.

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Declan Conlon and Fiona Ferguson

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