A Dublin car dealer who sent fake invoices to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in order to avoid tax penalties has been given a suspended sentence.
Glen Walker, who ran Autosport Motors in Clondalkin, “panicked” when CAB inspectors called to his garage to carry out a Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) inspection in October 2017, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
When officers queried whether VRT had been paid on two imported BMWs in the garage forecourt, Walker later emailed and posted a false invoice to CAB saying the vehicles had been purchased within the last 30 days – within the required time frame for payment of VRT.
Walker (39), with an address in Saggart Lakes, Citywest, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of using a false instrument in relation to a motor vehicle between October 26 and November 7, 2017.
The BMWs were seized by CAB, leaving Walker with a loss of €90,000, the court heard.
The garage has since gone into liquidation, but he is still working in the industry.
Sentencing Walker, Judge Melanie Greally said it was a “heavy price” to pay for his lapse of honesty.
“But he was operating in a sector where high standards must be maintained,” the judge said.
“He fell very far short of fulfilling these expectations.
She handed down a two-year sentence, but suspended it on a number of conditions.
“This offence will have caused him considerable embarrassment, will impact on his standing in the motor trade and will affect his relationship with suppliers and customers,” the judge said.
Walker, a father-of-three, has seven previous convictions from between 2001 and 2013, including dangerous driving and drink driving, the court heard.
Sergeant Gary Sheridan, previously of CAB, told Phillip Rahn BL, prosecuting, that he visited Walker’s garage on October 26, 2017 to query the non-payment of VRT on two BMWs, which had a sale value of €30,000 and €60,000 respectively.
Walker told the officers that he had bought the cars from a dealer in Co Tyrone, but was unable to provide documentation.
He offered to pay the VRT immediately, but the cars were seized on suspicion that they had been in the State longer than the 30 days required for VRT to be paid.
A strict 30-day limit applies to car dealers, the court heard.
On November 7, Walker emailed an invoice to CAB through his solicitors which stated he had bought the cars from a Tyrone dealer on October 13.
A hard copy was also posted to CAB. However, CAB was not satisfied with the invoice and a notice for seizure of the vehicles was issued.
Another car dealer subsequently told gardaí that Walker had asked him if he would do him a favour and get him a letter from the Northern Irish car dealer stating the car had been bought within that time limit.
Northern Irish revenue officers spoke to the Tyrone car dealers named on the invoice but they declined to give a statement. The solicitors employed by Walker later withdrew their services upon learning they had sent a false document on his behalf.
Defence counsel said Walker was extremely remorseful and “would not be darkening the door of this court or any other court again”.