A company director has been spared an immediate prison sentence after faking invoices and a bank statement in a VAT fraud.

Southampton Crown Court heard how Bruce Martin had registered two businesses – Migliori Consultancy and Migliori Services – online.

In May 2012 he submitted a VAT return and five invoices to Customs and Excise in respect of the first business which led him to be repaid more than £8,700. The invoices were false, said prosecutor David Reid.

The following December, he submitted a return over his second company and again Customs and Excise asked for supporting invoices. He provided two but a security check revealed discrepancies and he was asked to give a bank statement which also turned out to be forged.

This time, however, he was not paid out on his claim for £7,600, said Mr Reid.

Martin, 34, of Solomons Close, Shirrell Heath, admitted two counts of fraudulent evasion of VAT and received a four month suspended sentence with a 200 hour community work order.

In mitigation at Southampton Crown Court, Mark Florida-James said the companies were legitimate and had not been established as a vehicle for fraudulent VAT claims.