Tax cheat Paul Staples jailed for three years

Paul Thomas Staples and Jean Staples leave the Manukau District Court

Paul Thomas Staples and Jean Staples leave the Manukau District Court last week

TAX CHEAT Paul Thomas Staples was today sentenced to three years imprisonment on multiple counts of GST and income tax fraud.

The former police officer and failed businessman cut a forlorn figure as he was taken into custody to spend the first of what will be many long days and nights in the company of those he once used to help lock up.

As Staples left the dock this morning to begin his three-year prison sentence, his wife Jean, the chief collaborator in much of her husband’s offending, leapt to her feet in one final but ultimately futile act of solidarity.

Before she was able to reach her husband to say her final farewells, she was abruptly ordered back to her seat where she was told in no uncertain terms to sit down.

Outside court there were no tears, no posturing, no histrionics – just a quiet sense of inevitability about a prison sentence both Paul and Jean Staples must have seen coming months ago.

Staples was warned back in August that a lengthy spell behind bars was likely unless he could make significant restitution towards the nearly half million dollars he owed Inland Revenue.

Today during sentencing it emerged he hadn’t paid a cent towards what he owed.  

In fact, since October 2011 Staples had only repaid $12.32 of what he owed the taxman.

Staples lawyer Paul Pati told the court that his client had done his level best to find work so he could start repaying IRD. He said Staples had secured three work contracts but those were cancelled after news of his offending become public.

Pati said the companies involved had taken a dim view of Staples offending and said they had no choice but to cancel the work contracts they had with him.

”He has tried to do things properly. He has been trying to make things right with IRD,” Pati said.

He described Staples as a ‘good father’, ‘good husband’ and good provider but accepted his offending had gone on for a significant period of time and had involved a great deal of money.

Between September 2008 and August 2011, Staples rorted IRD to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars through bogus income tax and GST claims filed on behalf of several companies that existed in name only.

He would then pocket that money to pay household bills, personal expenses, loans and his mortgage.

Crown solicitor James Angelson told the court today that debt to IRD currently stood at a whopping $477,0000 – money the New Zealand taxpayer is unlikely to ever see repaid.

He rejected claims Staples had done his level best to repay IRD, saying there had been no effort on his part whatsoever to make amends to the taxman.

IRD had been left with no choice now but to push ahead with bankruptcy proceedings, he said.

This will be the second time Staples has been adjudged bankrupt.

Judge Andree Wiltens said given the vast amount of money involved he had to impose a starting point of four years imprisonment.

He said back in August he had asked Staples to come up with some repayment schedule with IRD but nothing had been done on that front.

“It seems to me that IRD has no option but to drive you into bankruptcy,” he said.

He said he was willing to take a year off the four-year starting point in recognition of Staples guilty plea and acceptance of his criminal offending.

He added there was nothing in Staples’ personal circumstances to warrant any further reduction in sentence.


cookStephen Cook is a multi award winning journalist and former news editor and assistant editor of the Herald on Sunday.

 

 

 

Disclosure: Editor Cam Slater was once in business with Paul Staples in another security company.


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