A LUXURY watch retailer has been jailed for two years and nine months for conning the taxman out of £271,023.

Mark Nicholas Gibson, pictured, bought and sold luxury high-value watches including Rolex and Cartier from his former home in Ferndown and falsified invoices to reclaim VAT from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Many of the expensive watches the 49-year-old had submitted VAT repayments for had never been purchased and so he wasn’t entitled to the VAT refunds he gained.

Gibson registered for VAT in April 1990 and was trading as Mark Gibson, watch wholesaler.

He made the fake claims for VAT repayments while living at Wollaton Road, Ferndown, between August 2008 and July 2010.

By buying watches in the UK and selling the goods overseas he was receiving legitimate VAT repayments from HMRC.

But he also made claims on expensive watches which he had not purchased and Gibson was arrested in May 2012 in his rented home in West Street, Shapwick, near Blandford.

He pleaded not guilty to cheating the public revenue of £271,023 in VAT, but was found guilty by a jury at Bournemouth Crown Court.

Judge Peter Johnson, during sentencing, said: “It was a sophisticated and professionally planned fraud, executed over a period of time.”

After the case David Margree, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “Gibson had traded legitimately, but greed led him to commit fraud.

“Those criminals who think that this type of crime doesn’t harm anyone should think again.

“Our message is clear – it is simply not acceptable to steal from the tax system and, ultimately, every honest taxpayer in the UK.”