Express & Star

Jury clears haulage firm directors of £50,000 VAT fraud - woman admits conspiracy

The directors of a struggling goods distribution company have been cleared of defrauding the taxman to the tune of more than £50,000.

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Wolverhampton Crown Court

Operators of Oldbury-based Lightning Express Warehousing and Distribution Ltd, Martyn Sviter and Paul Edward Cockayne were cleared of any wrongdoing following a jury trial.

The men, along with another employee, Sallyanne Cockayne, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of to conspiring to evade value added tax (VAT) between 2009 and 2016 relating to the haulage firm based at Anglo African Industrial Estate, in Union Road.

However, mid-trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Cockayne, 50, changed her initial not guilty pleas to guilty, resulting in the trial being brought to a halt.

The jury heard that false invoices to drive down the sums due were obtained from a man called John Smith and filed to HMRC.

Cockayne and Sviter said they believed the invoices provided by Smith were genuine, while Sallyanne Cockayne said she had been drafted in to help with record-keeping in 2014.

The court heard Smith was not part of the trial due to him being unwell.

Siviter, 49, of Coal Street, in Netherton, and Paul Edward Cockayne, 51, of Little Island Drive, in Willenhall, were found not guilty by the jury.

Sallyanne Cockayne, 50, also of Little Island Drive, in Willenhall, will be sentenced in October.

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