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Builder Wayne Harrison ordered to pay back just £1 after £800k VAT scam

By Paul Hooper

Cheating builder Wayne Harrison claimed he was bankrupt. Library picture

Galliford Try are KCC's preferred bidder for a £38m contract to build 220 apartments

A cheating builder who scammed more than £800,000 by fiddling his VAT returns, will have to repay just £1!

Three-times-married Wayne Harrison, 52, ran two multi-million pound firms involved in new builds in Thanet, Canterbury and others parts of the south east.

But the devious boss – who claims he is now a penniless bankrupt – says he has no assets to pay back the £837,390.24 he pocketed by faking receipts and fiddled the books.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that when a VAT inspector went to his home in Fitzroy Avenue, in Broadstairs, they discovered he was building himself an extension.

Harrison tried to avoid an investigation by claiming his bookkeeper had suffered a nervous breakdown and fled abroad.

But financial investigation revealed some of the money from his bank accounts had been sent to Russia, said prosecutor William Hughes.

Harrison was jailed for 30 months after admitting two charges of cheating the public revenue but a financial investigation has revealed that he has no assets.

He will now have to pay back the nominal £1 within the next six months or face another day added to his sentence.

His barrister Barry Gilbert told the judge at the earlier hearing: "He is no robber baron. He was just struggling to keep his business afloat."

"He was desperately trying to find a way out and he is a man who has worked hard all his life, but he wasn't feathering his own nest" - Barry Gilbert, defending

Harrison ran Weybridge Homes Limited, with registered offices in The Broadway, in Broadstairs, and David Charles Homes Limited, which was registered in Ashford before going bust in 2007.

When the investigation was launched into his bogus returns in July 2009, Harrison was working from his home in Broadstairs – where he was building an extension.

Two of the areas that he said he was building were homes in Calcott Hill, in Sturry, and opposite Broadstairs Cricket Club.

Harrison then submitted receipts and spreadsheets from 10 companies in support of his VAT claims.

However, when investigators spoke to suppliers they discovered not only were some fake – but he owed money to a number of them for genuine work.

Mr Gilbert said Harrison had not set out to defraud the public but his companies "hit the skids and he went down the wrong road and beefed up his VAT claims".

He added: "He was desperately trying to find a way out and he is a man who has worked hard all his life but he wasn't feathering his own nest."

Harrison was also banned from being a company director for five years.

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