Richard Hillgrove gets suspended jail sentence

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Robert Lovell
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Public relations guru Richard Hillgrove has walked free from court after being convicted of dishonestly cheating the public revenue of £100,000.

Recorder Robert Linford sentenced Hillgrove to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, along with 200 hours of unpaid work and £5,000 costs.

In 2011 and 2012 Hillgrove failed to pay HMRC £52,268 of VAT charged to customers of his PR company and deducted £44,846 in PAYE from employee wages without passing it on to the Revenue.

The Somerton PR adviser denied both charges of dishonestly cheating the revenue, but was convicted on 26 March following a three week trial.

Much of the trial focused on Hillgrove's elaborate spending on his business and personal life at a time when he should have been paying HMRC.

The judge said in court this morning...

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27th May 2014 17:10

Who says

crime doesn't pay?

Thanks (6)
27th May 2014 21:42

i have grave reservations about this case
We await the appeal

Thanks (0)
28th May 2014 10:40

I like the

way the judge is giving advice to a conman. Bit like telling the EU they're doing something wrong.

Thanks (0)
28th May 2014 11:20

If this chap can get away with cheating the HMRC...

...what hope does this give to those individuals who have been defrauded and had their lives ruined.  Is it any wonder that fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes.  This sends an even stronger signal to fraudsters that they have carte blanche to do what they want without fear of retribution ...except maybe in the next life.  Let's hope that next life comes soon to these despicable creatures!

Thanks (5)
28th May 2014 13:23


Must be terrible for him to have to pay the money back eventually and do 200 hours community service, that's what 1 months work?

Not a bad little return for the one he DID get caught with. Goodness knows what else he has gotten away with. 

Thanks (0)
By Locutus
31st May 2014 19:07

I was hoping he'd get 6 months inside ...
That would have sent a clearer message that squandering money on a frivolous lifestyle instead of paying over the taxes that had been collected is wrong.

But putting aside my inherent dislike for a guy who blames everyone else for not paying his taxes, the real revelation was that Suspicious Activity Reports are not quite as confidential as we once thought and can even be read out in Court.

I wonder whether quite so many reports will be made in the future.

Thanks (2)
28th May 2014 13:46

The appeal & the sentence

A couple of points to bear in mind.

An appeal is not an opportunity to re-run the trial.  An appeal focuses not on the evidence or the jury's conclusions (whether apparently sensible or not).  It is not an opportunity to ask the appeal court judges, 'Would you have found me guilty on that evidence?'.

An appeal will focus on any alleged errors made by the judge in his summing up of the case & his directions to the jury regarding the meaning of relevant law and on the judge's decisions during the trial - for example on whether a particular piece of evidence was legally admissible or whether a particular question could be put to a witness.

Even if the Court of Appeal decides that the judge made some errors it will not necessarily follow that a conviction will be overturned.  That will depend upon whether, in the appeal court's view, those errors make the verdict 'unsafe'.

Ordinarily the Court of Appeal will not hear any evidence from witnesses, it will only hear submissions from counsel.

Of course there will always be the occasional exceptional case which doesn't follow what I have just set out - but those are rare!

With regard to sentencing the judge will have had regard to the damage to the victim and the nature of the dishonesty.  In this case the victim was HMRC, who presumably were not crippled by the loss of £100,000.  The judge will have considered whether the convicted defendant set out on a course of action aimed, from the start, at defrauding the victim.  The amount involved would also be one of the factors considered in sentencing.

One can see that there would be reasons why the judge might consider that this fraud was not one of the most serious to be heard in a Crown Court.


Thanks (3)
28th May 2014 15:24

The dreaded DMB sherrifs have knocked on several of my clients doors asking for a trifling sum compared to what this fraudster got away with.

One rule for some??????

Thanks (1)
By jholmes
30th May 2014 09:30


I would be interested in an answer to the following question. Does anyone know what the terms of his suspended sentence are? 

For instance, is it a standard thing of if you get convicted of another offence then you will go to jail, or are they specific to the case, i.e. if he fails to make a payment to HMRC he will be in breach and therefore go to jail?

Because if its the first i really do despair! 

Thanks (1)
30th May 2014 10:57

Suspended sentence
If a person during the term of suspension finds himself before the court convicted of a further criminal offence the court may, in addition to sentencing him for that further offence, trigger the suspended sentence.

Thanks (1)
By jholmes
30th May 2014 11:24

Thanks David, though i am a little depressed :(

So what your saying then, is that this guy can now declare himself bankrupt, have his wife set up a PR company, employ him for national minimum wage, she take the profit and they continue as before.

So long as he keeps his nose clean for 2 years (i doubt this would be too hard for him, he's hardly a career shoplifter) he wont go to jail and he wont have to pay anything back to HMRC (an assumption that NMW would be too low for an AOE to kick in).

Horray for the British justice system!

Thanks (1)
24th Jun 2014 17:59

So, a director I'm aware of who is under investigation... the Police for fraud, and who also probably didn't pay his IR35 for some years while billing something like £120,000 pa, is unlikely to feel the long arm of the law!

Thanks (0)