Yorkshire cleaning company owner jailed after not paying tax for six years in £100,000 fraud

A rogue businesswoman has been jailed for two years for a £100,000 tax fraud after failing to declare income from her lucrative cleaning business.

Sally Woodhead, 54, ran Scarborough-based A1 Cleaners from 2010 but in the following six years, during which she earned “substantial” sums, she failed to file any tax returns to the Inland Revenue.

Woodhead, one of whose main clients was a popular holiday park in the Scarborough area, was charged with three counts of fraud after her ruse finally unravelled, but initially denied all allegations.

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She was due to face trial but ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of fraud or income-tax evasion by failing to notify HM Revenue & Customs of her earnings. The offences occurred between 2010 and 2016.

Sally Amanda Woodhead

The prosecution had alleged that Woodhead defrauded the Government department out of £177,000, but finally accepted her basis of plea that it was £100,000.

Two other fraud allegations, including failing to declare income to obtain tax-credit payments and VAT fraud, were allowed to lie on court file.

Woodhead, of Foxholes, Driffield, appeared for sentence at York Crown Court on Tuesday following her belated guilty plea to the substantive charge.

Prosecutor Simon Clegg said Woodhead had been self-employed since the 1990s, predominantly running a cleaning business. She had run eight previous businesses for which she completed self- assessment tax returns.

“Since 2010, however, no such returns had been filed,” added Mr Clegg.

Woodhead was operating the cleaning company between 2010 and 2016 and one of her major clients was the company which ran the holiday park in North Yorkshire, which paid over £1.7 million for cleaning services during those six years.

“She was drawing a substantial income from the (cleaning) business…(but) at no stage during that successful venture did she file any tax returns,” added Mr Clegg.

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He alleged that the amount of income tax due was about £177,000, but that the prosecution was prepared to accept Woodhead being sentenced on the basis that it was £100,000.

He said that when Woodhead was quizzed by police in 2017, she falsely claimed that her late ex- partner was to blame and that it was he who was running the business.

Mr Clegg said that Woodhead’s apparent prosperity at the time of the offences could be gauged by a mortgage application she made prior to the fraud when she declared an annual income of £55,000.

The court heard that Woodhead had two previous convictions for fraud, namely obtaining property by deception in the 1990s. She also had a previous rap for theft and a conviction for animal cruelty from 2000.

Her defence counsel said Woodhead was in poor health but was spared the need for mitigation as judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, said that although a jail sentence was inevitable, the length of that prison term would trigger her immediate release as she had been on custodial remand since April last year - the equivalent of a 24-month sentence.

Jailing her for two years, Mr Morris told her: “You are a thoroughly dishonest woman and you have to go to prison for this…(but) you have served a year (on remand). That will mean your immediate release.”

Woodhead now faces confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act which will be heard later this year.