Ice cream man Philip Fee scooped for tax dodging avoids prison sentence
An ice cream man from Enniskillen has avoided prison after being found guilty of fraud.
Philip Fee (63) from Drumbeg in the Co Fermanagh town was sentenced at Dungannon Crown Court yesterday to 32 months, suspended for three years.
He had pleaded guilty to cheating the taxman and 10 counts of money laundering.
The self-employed ice cream salesman used multiple bank accounts to hide the rental income he received from three properties in Co Fermanagh.
HM Revenue and Customs investigators stepped in to examine his accounts after his declared taxable profits had always been very low.
They found a number of bank accounts linked to Fee that showed he had been hiding his true income for a number of years.
Between 2008 and 2014 Fee received £41,376 in rental income and did not declare his profits from self-employment, evading approximately £25,000 in income tax.
Following the HMRC investigation, Fee was charged with tax evasion and cheating the public revenue.
Confiscation proceedings are under way to recover the proceeds of his crime.
Steve Tracey, assistant director of fraud investigation service at HMRC, emphasised that no one is above the law, explaining: "Fee seemed to believe that the rules simply didn't apply to him."
He added: "Despite generating large sums of money from rental income, he acted as if he was above the law and above paying the tax due on his profits.
"Tax fraud isn't a victimless crime, it is theft and money that should have been funding vital public services is being pocketed by fraudsters and criminals.
"If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud, you can report them to HMRC online or contact our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887."
Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.