A farmer and his wife have been jailed for their role in a £610,000 (€716,000) VAT fraud, after a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation into their Co. Armagh beef cattle farm.

Joseph Cassidy, aged 50, of Killyfaddy Road, Tassagh was a VAT registered beef farmer from January 1995.

Between July 2011 and March 2015, Cassidy made fraudulent VAT claims totalling £610,000.00, according to the revenue office.

Cassidy and his wife Anna Cassidy, aged 51, who was responsible for the farms business records, were arrested on February 23, 2016, on suspicion of VAT fraud and money laundering offences.

The premises and the adjoining farmyard were searched by HMRC officers and business records were seized.

HMRC investigators established that Anna Cassidy held two bank accounts; a business account into which the VAT repayments were paid and a savings account in her name.

Both Anna and Joseph Cassidy pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT and money laundering offences. Both appeared at Newry Crown Court yesterday, Thursday, November 28.

Joseph Cassidy was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, and Anna Cassidy was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, according to the revenue office.

The judge ruled that each will spend half of their sentence in jail and the rest on licence.

Confiscation proceedings are now underway to recover the tax stolen, according to the HMRC.