A man who became famous for double-glazing TV adverts has been convicted of evading £58,000 in tax.
Jeff Brown earned nearly £350,000 over a six-year period working as a contractor for double glazing company Safestyle UK and as a match day host at Burnley FC, however failed to file any tax returns.
Officers from HMRC raided his Burnley home in February last year and found ‘bundles of cash’ of up to £15,000 hidden inside a bedroom wardrobe, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Brown, 51, of Prairie Crescent pleaded guilty to six counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax and was given a 20 month prison sentence suspended for two years.
Louise Kitchin, prosecuting, told the court how Brown had no employment contract with Safestyle but was given commission payments of £333,179 for canvassing and motivational work.
Brown was also paid nearly £11,000 for freelance work at Burnley FC as a match day room host and was paid either cash or cheque for 110 home matches.
Timothy Brennand, defending, said Brown was ‘inevitably going to get caught’ and ‘there is no fool like an old fool’.
The court heard how Brown didn’t have an accountant or bookkeeper and relied on his wife, however when the relationship ended he ‘fell into self-induced chaos’.
Mr Brennand told the court: “Part of his problems began when he became estranged from his wife.
“He was not thinking through or giving full attention after the laughter had died down and the plaudits had long since finished resounding in the ear. He would work very hard from location to location. He didn’t realise he should get himself self-employed status, to get himself registered and a bookkeeper.
“He would simply stick his head in the sand and think about the immediacy of either the next job, quote or motivational speech or next match.
“Anything other than putting his life in order.
“There is no sophistication in it. He just didn’t put his affairs in order.
“It was always tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.”
Jeff Brown’s conviction for tax evasion will have a long lasting effect on him, the court was told.
Defence barrister Mr Brennand told the hearing: “This will have a long lasting effect, long after the events of today have dissipated in his recollection.
“He has learned the hard way. He is truly, truly sorry.
“Safestyle think so highly of him and his motivational abilities that they haven’t burned bridges.
“But the reality is that in this ever commercially sensitive world in which we live that any black mark or notoriety and adherence to best practice means effectively that he has blotted his book.”
Judge Beverley Lunt said ‘if anyone was going to get caught it had to be him.
“He knew his obligation. No question. We have a man here who is a working man.
“I watch the TV, I recognise him, he is the face of Safestyle UK.
“Stupidity doesn’t really come close to categorising what you did.
“Whether you lose your job or not with Safetstyle is unclear but your status will not be the same.”