A HERVEY Bay man will spend at least 18 months behind bars for netting hundreds of thousands of dollars through false diesel fuel tax rebate claims.
A decade after lodging the dodgy claims, the elderly man and former navy officer - now aged 65 - pleaded guilty to defrauding the tax office of about $936,000 in total.
Brisbane District Court heard on Friday how Neal Stanley Lane and Warren Edward Rees defrauded the tax office, during one sting, of about $324,000 worth of diesel tax rebates between 2003 and 2004.
Rees was sentenced at Ipswich District Court in 2014 for his involvement in the fraud.
He had created a false identity and used it to create a bank account where the refunds went into.
Lane was his book keeper and had filled out the forms.
On other occasions, Lane also lodged false claims from two other businesses and was refunded about $184,000 and $428,000 from these. This money was paid into his bank account.
"This is a serious fraud," District Court Judge Anthony Rafter said. "The amount involved is very significant.
"Moreover, the fraudulent scheme was dishonest from the outset. The fraud was deliberate and persistent. Tax fraud can be difficult to detect."
Judge Rafter said Lane suffered a back injury after he fell out of an aircraft carrier off Vietnam and injured his back again in a traffic accident.
He said Lane also suffered from heart disease and lung disease and while they were relevant, he said they could not overlook the serious nature of the offences.
The judge also said Lane had a long history of community work, including charity work, and had endured grief from the loss of his wife and two children.
During Lane's sentence hearing, there was also discussion about how much of the $324,000 Lane had received in the joint fraud with Rees.
The court heard Rees claimed, at his sentence hearing in 2014, that he had received only $5000 and the rest went to Lane, but Judge Rafter said this was "ridiculous".
Judge Rafter said he would sentence Lane on the basis that the $324,000 was divided between them.
Lane was sentenced to a total five years jail. He will be eligible to apply for parole after serving 18 months.
- ARM NEWSDESK
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