Trio of farming brothers sentenced for tax fraud

Three farming brothers from Co. Armagh appeared before Newry Crown Court, Co. Down, for a VAT fraud to the sum of £140,000 (€159,117), according to local publication Armaghi, with the final brother of the three receiving his sentence yesterday (Wednesday, June 28).

Each of the brothers received a suspended sentence of varying lengths.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reportedly discovered – following an extensive investigation that dates back to 2013 – that Ronald John Sinclair Halliday, 52, from Whitecross, Co. Armagh, had committed serious fraud offences through the forgery of invoices showing the purchase or hire of equipment and materials – believed to be agricultural in nature.

Halliday’s brothers, Pastor Gordon William Barrie Halliday from Mountnorris and Richard Jonathan Kris Halliday from Keady, apparently made fraudulent repayment claims through these false documents.

The invoices were confirmed as false by the people and businesses whose names had been used on the documentation, it was reported.

It was concluded by the Forensic Science Agency of Northern Ireland that at least some of the forged documents had most likely been written by Ronald Halliday after a handwriting examination was carried out on the invoices.

The court reportedly sentenced Ronald Halliday to 12 months, suspended for 18 months. Halliday pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty at an earlier hearing.

Meanwhile, Gordon Halliday, 49, was given a nine-month prison sentence – also suspended for 18 months – after making a guilty plea to 17 counts of VAT repayment fraud, also at Newry Crown Court, on Wednesday, June 21.

Finally, Richard Halliday, 42, was sentenced to six months – with an 18-month suspension – when he pleaded guilty to seven counts of VAT repayment fraud in the same court sitting.