AN “HONEST” builder who failed to pay more than £128,000 in tax and National Insurance contributions has been ordered to repay £141,453 within three months.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Carlo Russell bought two houses mortgage-free while claiming it was “virtually impossible” to make a profit in the trade.

In June, Russell, of Smugglers Lane North in Christchurch, was sentenced to two years and four months in prison after he admitted a charge of cheating the public revenue.

He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of knowingly being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT.

Prosecutors alleged some £180,000 was owed, although the claim was being pursued through the civil courts.

Russell, 51, has now been ordered to repay a large amount of the money, or face a further 18 months in prison - while still owing the money after his release.

Richard Wilkinson, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “It is important that we stop criminals profiting from their crimes and recover the money to fund public services.

“Russell is already serving a prison sentence and if he doesn’t pay back what he owes, he will spend even more time behind bars - and still owe the money.”

The defendant was a sole trader who registered his business with HMRC in 2002 but failed to pay between 2007 and 2015.

During Russell’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors said he benefitted by £128,335.91.

In 2011, Russell bought a property in Hengistbury Road outright, which he sold in 2014 for £410,000.

He then bought his home in Smugglers Lane North mortgage-free for £377,500.

The house is now thought to be worth £650,000, it was heard.

Michael Mason, prosecuting, alleged that Russell had also failed to pay further tax of £93,188 in the two years between his arrest in 2015 and his appearance at court for sentence. Prosecutors will pursue the allegation as part of a separate indictment.

The defendant earned £165,000 in 2007, when the registration limit was £64,000.

The following year, he took home £139,771. The registration limit was £70,000.