A FORMER parish council worker and alpaca farmer in West Yorkshire has been jailed for more than two years for attempting to steal £138,000 in VAT.

Sally Barber filed fraudulent VAT repayment claims for her farm and secretarial business Spectrum Services, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs revealed.

The 58-year-old submitted false information on VAT returns to steal £124,000 in repayments between April 2013 and February 2017, while another £14,000 was withheld by HMRC.

Barber was sentenced to 27 months in prison at Leeds Crown Court on Friday, after admitting VAT fraud during an appearance at the same court in December.

Tim Atkins, assistant director at HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Barber tried to steal taxpayers’ money which should be used to fund our public services. The money she stole was equivalent to the salaries of seven West Yorkshire police officer apprentices for a year.

“We will continue to pursue criminals like Barber who think tax fraud is acceptable.

"I encourage anyone with information on this type of fraud to report it to HMRC online, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Proceedings are underway to recover the VAT stolen by the former Holme Valley Parish Council clerk, of Brownhill Lane, Holmfirth.