A CROOKED accountant, who financed a luxury lifestyle by swindling clients, has been jailed for six years after a judge said he was motivated by “pure selfish greed”.
Sentencing Darren Upton at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, Judge Sally Cahill QC said he was a “thoroughly dishonest man” who had caused significant problems for the 33 clients involved who had trusted him.
They believed they were paying corporation tax to the Revenue only to discover later that Upton had kept the money.
Now they were facing demands for the original tax as well as penalties for non payment. Losses to those clients and the Revenue through his dishonesty were about half a million pounds.
The judge told Upton she was satisfied he used the money to ensure his lavish lifestyle continued which included driving a Bentley Continental with a personal number plate, providing a Maserati for his wife to drive and a Mercedes sports car for his secret girlfriend .
He had also rented a flat for the girlfriend in Salford, gave her £8,000 in living expenses and expensive Mulberry handbags, as well as paid for nights in hotels, flights and clothing.
“She was completely duped by you, she thought you were single.
“As a result she has lost her home because she could not afford to keep the flat you obtained for her,” said Judge Cahill.
In addition, Upton spent about £10,000 on jewellery and about the same on a box at Leeds United.
She said it had also come to light he had 300,000 euros in a bank account in the Seychelles.
The judge said she had received a letter from Upton written after his remand in custody. “You tell me that you are not the typical inmate of prison, that simply demonstrates that your arrogance continues.
“You are typical. Inmates of prison are dishonest, you are dishonest.”
Upton, 40, of Holmsley Lane, Woodlesford, Leeds admitted 15 charges of fraud at his firm Upton and Co Accountants, of Wood Street, Wakefield.
He asked for 23 other offences to be taken into consideration and also admitted contempt of court by breaching a restraint order made last year limiting him to using the firm’s bank accounts for legitimate purposes.
Nicholas Worsley, prosecuting, said in spite of that order Upton had used over £14,000 to pay deposits when he refinanced his Bentley Continental and his wife’s Maserati when they were being faced with repossession following his arrest.
“Once again that shows your greed and the lengths you were prepared to go to, to continue your lifestyle,” said Judge Cahill.
The court heard Upton had about 800 clients spread all over the country, many being one-man businesses working in information technology or consultancy markets who had found him over the internet.
The clients targeted believed they were paying the tax into a Revenue account but had in fact been given Upton’s account details.
When queries were raised with him on some occasions over payments he described people at the Revenue as “idiots” and said they had got things wrong.
Eventually it was his own staff who contacted the police concerned about what was going on.
Several of the clients affected said they had considered Upton as a personal friend and were devastated by his betrayal. One said Upton had even been to his wedding.
Describing the fraud’s impact on their businesses, one said he could not sleep for worrying how he was going to pay the taxes now.
Another said his plans to expand and employ more people had been cancelled.
Upton will now face further hearings to recover any money from his actions which the court heard would go towards compensation.