A convicted drug dealer who headed up a cannabis farm in Hartlepool was caught out by authorities after claiming he hadn't worked for 20 years.
Property maintenance manager David Noble evaded a £56,000 tax bill by telling HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) he hadn’t worked for 20 years – but revealed his true employment status to police while being questioned for drugs offences.
Noble, of Newhaven Court, Hartlepool, made the claim after being contacted by HMRC regarding his lack of tax records.
Later, investigators learnt the 66-year-old had been arrested by Cleveland Police after a cannabis farm was found in the town in August 2013.
The court heard that Noble managed the farm, which was set up with Anthony Stokle, Jamie Wharton and Christopher Tobin.
The HMRC says that Noble not realising law enforcement agencies and the HMRC shared informwation was "his undoing".
A copy of the interview, supplied to HMRC, detailed how Noble told police he was working on a self-employed basis for a property management company, tasked with maintaining warehouses and business parks across the North East.
Noble was arrested after the property company confirmed payments to him totalling £216,755 between 2007 and 2014. During interview, the former tin worker said he believed his tax was deducted ‘at source’ and that he wasn’t required to register with HMRC.
Noble pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of income tax at Teesside Crown Court on July 17. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison - to run concurrently with a 30-month jail sentence for the drugs offences - at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “Noble failed to realise that law enforcement agencies and HMRC share information with other. This proved to be his undoing, and it’s the reason he’s beginning a stint behind bars. Anyone with information about people who may be involved in tax fraud can contact the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Read more: Drugs gang jailed for £480,000 drugs farm in Hartlepool business units
Noble, 66, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, denied conspiracy to supply a Class B drug.
He was convicted after a trial lasting two weeks.
Noble admitted a separate offence of fraudulent evasion of £56,000 income tax.
Tobin, 30, of Allerton Close, Hartlepool, Stokle, 39, of Mariner’s Close, Hartlepool, and Wharton, 39, of Crimdon House Farm Cottages, Crimdon, each admitted conspiracy to supply a Class B drug.
Judge Peter Armstrong jailed Noble for 30 months, Stokle for 14 months, and Wharton for nine months.
The judge said: “This was a significant cannabis growing operation, and in my view people only get involved in that for one reason, which is for the substantial amount of money that can be made.”
The judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Christopher Tobin, who failed to turn up to be sentenced.