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West Yorkshire fraudsters sentenced

A Huddersfield man who set up two bogus haulage firms to claim £45,000 in fraudulent VAT repayments has been jailed following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

David Hirst, 53, enlisted the help of Leeds high street bank worker Sharon Mitchell, 53, to submit fake account statements to HMRC that appeared to show that Hirst and accomplice Carl Buttle, 42, had spent thousands on diesel. The trio then reclaimed the VAT ‘paid’ on the non-existent fuel.

But the scam reached the end of the road when an HMRC taskforce, set up to target fraudulent VAT refund claims, turned its attention to C&C International Transport Ltd. Investigators discovered the company had no premises, vehicles or employees.

“David Hirst might have fancied himself as a businessman, but it’s a very poor businessman indeed who thinks plotting with others to steal from the taxpayer is a good way to pay for a lorry.

“Today’s sentence sends out a clear message to anyone engaged in this type of criminality: we will find you and, if necessary, bring you before the courts.

“HMRC is devoting more resources than ever to tracking down fraudsters. It is vital that we are able to collect the right amount of tax to keep the country’s public services running.”

– Jo Tyler, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC

As part of the investigation, codenamed Operation Akimbo, HMRC contacted fuel suppliers and established that invoices provided by C&C International Transport Ltd were forged. Bank statements submitted in support of a £45,407.51 VAT repayment to sister company Independent Road Transport Ltd were also found to be counterfeit.

The homes of Hirst, Mitchell and Buttle were searched on 16 April 2014. At interview, Hirst admitted the businesses never existed and that the invoices were false. He went on to explain the purpose of the fraud was to claim enough money to set up a genuine haulage business. Buttle denied any knowledge of the plot.

Meanwhile, a forensic examination of Mitchell’s work computer uncovered a number of counterfeit invoices. Investigators also discovered she had used equipment belonging to the bank to produce the forged statements – before sending the documents to HMRC form her work email address.

After pleading guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT at an earlier hearing, Hirst was sentenced to 20 months in prison by His Honour Judge Benson at Bradford Crown Court today, 28 August 2015.

Mitchell was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to a charge of false accounting.

Buttle, who also admitted the fraudulent evasion of VAT, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work.

Hull KR: Looking back at 1980

It's thirty-five years since Hull Kingston Rovers won their first and only Challenge Cup final in 1980 and it was a memorable day for the whole city. All Hull was let loose that day when Rovers took on the Airlie Birds - the Robins edging it by 10 points to 5.

We've been talking to some of those who were there that day, including the player who scored 9 of the 10 points for Hull KR and a woman who was 7 months pregnant - and her son, who's now all grown up.

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Hull fans get ready for big match

This Saturday will be the first time in nearly thirty years that the Robins have stepped onto Wembley's hallowed turf and supporters are certainly getting behind the club's call for them to show their true colours.

As James Webster reports, fans are wearing those colours with pride. Even a few Hull FC fans are putting their cross city rivalry to one side.

Red Arrows to do 'flypast only' at air show

Credit: Ministry of Defence

Following the Shoreham air crash, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has amended the display permissions for the Dartmouth Royal Regatta so that Lincolnshire's Red Arrows will only be performing flypasts, and not their usual full display.

"It has been assessed that the required changes to display heights and positioning would have reduced the visual quality of the display for the public to an unacceptable level and therefore, with regret, the Red Arrows’ will not be conducting a full display at Dartmouth this year."

– Royal Airforce spokesperson

Service for rugby league's fallen

The Parliamentary Rugby League Group has laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in remembrance of those involved in rugby league who have died while serving their country.

The ceremony was restored to Challenge Cup Final weekend tradition by HM Armed Forces in 2014, and takes place the day before the final. This year’s ceremony drew larger crowds from the rugby league family showing their support to the Armed Services, and was bolstered by hundreds of visitors to the capital.

“...to my mind, this ceremony represents the best of rugby league. Above all else, rugby league is a family and we look after one another. Like any family, we remember those we have lost and this both a poignant ceremony and fitting tribute to those in the game who have done so much for the country and for us.”

– The Group’s Chairman, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland

“I am proud to be a part of this ceremony, as part of Leeds Rhinos, as a rugby league player and as a person. Those we honour today were not just players and fans of our great game, they were and are true heroes and in this small gesture, we recognise and reflect on their profound courage and are grateful for all they have done for those they left behind.”

– Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos

“This is a hugely important part of the Challenge Cup Final weekend. It sets the foundation for what is a celebration of the sport the following day, and gives us pause to reflect and give thanks to all those who have given so much so that we might run out at Wembley and enjoy a great day. It touches you and it was an honour to be involved in such an occasion.”

– Hull KR Captain, Terry Campese

Conducted by Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and lead by Vice Chief of Defence Staff and President of Great Britain Armed Forces Rugby League, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the ceremony began as Big Ben struck 11 o’clock. Joining GBARFL and Parliamentary Group Chairman Greg Mulholland MP were RFL Chairman Brian Barwick and Denise Edwards of the Royal British Legion. Challenge Cup Finalists Leeds Rhinos and Hull Kingston Rovers were represented by their Chief Executives Gary Hetherington and Mike Smith, and players Jamie Jones Buchanan and Liam Sutcliffe for Leeds and Hull KR’s captain Terry Campese.

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Fourth person arrested over Branton crash

Credit: ITV

A fourth person has been arrested following the crash in Doncaster that left two people dead. Three people were arrested yesterday.

The 18-year-old man, from Doncaster, has been arrested by police this morning (Friday 28 August) on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remains in custody being questioned.

Two men died following the collision between a car and a house in Poppyfields Way at around 12.50pm on Tuesday 25 August.

A third man remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Three people were arrested by police yesterday (Thursday 27 August) in connection with the collision.

Police in South Wales arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

A 15-year-old boy from Doncaster has also been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

A 21-year-old woman from Doncaster was also arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

The three have been bailed while police enquiries continue.

Formal identification of the two men who died has not yet taken place.

The investigation continues and police continue to seek any information about a second vehicle, which is believed to have been involved.

Huddersfield man arrested for hacking

Credit: PA

An eighteen-year-old man from Huddersfield has been released on bail as part of an investigation in to hacking by the National Crime Agency. Five other men across the country were also arrested for allegedly using 'Lizard Stresser' - a programme that can take websites offline for up to eight hours at a time.

All six men are suspected of maliciously deploying Lizard Stresser, having bought the tool using alternative payment services such as Bitcoin in a bid to remain anonymous. Organisations believed to have been targeted by the suspects include a leading national newspaper, a school, gaming companies and a number of online retailers.

“By paying a comparatively small fee, tools like Lizard Stresser can cripple businesses financially and deprive people of access to important information and public services.

“This multi-agency operation illustrates the commitment of the NCA and its partners to pursuing people who think they can criminally disrupt important public services or legitimate businesses.”

“One of our key priorities is to engage with those on the fringes of cyber criminality, to help them understand the consequences of cyber crime and how they can channel their abilities into productive and lucrative legitimate careers.”

– Tony Adams, Head of Investigations at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit

Man sought over Leeds assault

Police investigating an assault in Roundhay Park on 23 August have released an e-fit of a man they would like to identify in connection with the incident.

"Officers have been patrolling Roundhay Park each day since the assault. They will be returning on Sunday 30 August, hoping to identify anyone who may have been in the park on Sunday 23 August, or who may have seen the male previously as several callers have stated they believe he has been there before.

"Anyone who recognises this man, or who has information about the incident, should contact Leeds District CID on 101 or the independent Crimsetoppers charity, anonymously, on 0800 555 111."

– Detective Sergeant James Entwhistle of Leeds District CID

Officers were called to the park at about 10.17am on Sunday 23 August to a 29-year-old woman who had been grabbed by a man while walking on a path close to the old swimming pool car park.

She resisted and managed to break free and away from the suspect.

He was described as a 6’4" tall, very dark skinned afro Caribbean male in his 20’s, of medium build with broad shoulders, brown eyes with a yellow tinge to the whites, a flat and big nose with a big top lip and short black hair with the appearance of small tight knots.

The suspect was wearing a dark overhead hooded top with a pocket on the front and a pair of shiny black tracksuit bottoms.

Record bank holiday weekend for Leeds Bradford airport

Credit: PA

Leeds Bradford Airport says it's expecting its busiest ever weekend over the Bank Holiday with fifty thousand passengers travelling through the terminal.

“Leeds Bradford’s growth in passenger numbers continues to prove that Yorkshire holidaymakers and travellers want to fly close to home rather than having to risk traffic delays and congestion on the motorway network flying from other airports. ’’

– Tony Hallwood Leeds Bradford® Airports Aviation Development Director
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