A hotelier has been jailed for two years for a £380,000 VAT fraud, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said.

Lesley Dykes, 66, of Markinch, Fife, stole the money during a five-year fraud, an HMRC investigation revealed.

Between August 2011 and July 2014, she submitted false returns for The Crusoe Hotel in Lower Largo and The Dunnikier House Hotel in Kirkcaldy and then failed to submit returns at all from August 2014 to July 2016 – evading £380,000 in tax.

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HMRC officers raided Dykes’ home in Mount Frost Place as well as the two hotels on August 9 2016, seizing documents, mobile phones and computers.

These included sales records from both hotels – documents that Dykes had previously told HMRC were destroyed in a flood.

She was sentenced to two years in jail at a hearing at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Thursday, having pleaded guilty in November.

Sineidin Corrins, Procurator Fiscal for Tayside, Central and Fife, said: “The investigation into Lesley Dykes’ fraudulent activity was complex and lengthy. The sentence should serve as a warning to others who seek to steal from the public purse.

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"We will continue to work in partnership with HMRC to ensure those who seek to profit from VAT fraud are brought to justice."

Cheryl Burr, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: “This was a cynical and contrived plot to steal money that helps fund our public services. The tax this hotelier stole is the equivalent annual salary of 15 new-start nurses in Scotland.

"HMRC will continue to pursue the minority of criminals who attack the tax system and we ask anyone with information about suspected VAT fraud to report it to HMRC online or call our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887."