To some people (though not Bill Shankly, who wasn’t being serious) football is more important than life. Damian O’Hagan would appear to be one such person, and he paid for in on 27th January 2016 when he was sent to prison for 18 months.
What do you mean?
Well, Mr O’Hagan had committed a VAT fraud – charging a client VAT on services rendered, but failing to pass it on to the VATman.
Rather than sticking around to face the music, he cleared off to Benidorm (home of many a respectable British ex-pat criminal) to run a bar, with £91,761 of VAT money.
Although Spain is not the end of the earth, it seems that although he was listed as wanted, no attempts had been made to arrest hime there.
But on 23rd August 2015, Mr O’Hagan was lured back to England to watch his beloved Everton. It’s not clear how he got back into the country without being found (probably on the train or ferry we would guess), but he was arrested going in to Goodison Park).
Charged with VAT fraud, he pleaded guilty (it’s not clear at what stage of the proceedings exactly) and was sentenced on 27th January.
There are Sentencing Guidelines for fraud (page 19) that deal with VAT fraud.
The case is a Category 6 Harm one (that part depends on the monetary value, so is easy to work out). In terms of culpability, we don’t have enough information to be sure, but if it was committed on his own, it would appear to be a Culpability B (more by the fact that it is not A or C).
This gives a starting point of 18 months, with a range of 6 months to 3 years. The value puts it right up to the top of that range. Then there must be some credit for a plea, which would reduce it to somewhere round the 2 year mark.
Here the sentence is less than that, which may reflect any amount of other mitigation that may have been present.
Absent the sentencing remarks, there’s not much we can say other than that the sentence appears a fair one.
The extra sting for Mr O’Hagan is the confiscation proceedings – he stands to have whatever money and assets he have taken off him by the government …
All in all, this just goes to show that nothing good will come of being a football fan (or, at least, an Everton fan).
And, after all that, Everton lost (2-0 to Man City if you’re interested)