A Lanarkshire baker has been fined £60,000 by HMRC over false repayment claims.

Plains-based Derek Higgins sold his bakery business, Higgins and Cushley, which had its headquarters in nearby Coatbridge, in May 2011. But between 2011 and 2013 he continued to submit repayment claims (10 in total) to HMRC as though the business were still trading.

Higgins appeared for sentencing at Airdrie Sheriff Court this week – he was given 160 hours’ community service to be completed within six months.

He avoided a custodial sentence but was given a 16-week Restriction of Liberty Order - which places him under curfew between 7pm and 7am - and a compensation order for £60,000 to be paid to HMRC by March 2017.

At an earlier hearing in November he pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT, contrary to the VAT Act 1994, according to HMRC.

Cheryl Burr, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “Higgins deliberately set out to create a false paper trail, manipulating a system that exists for the benefit of legitimate companies.

“This was theft, stealing money he was not entitled to, money that’s needed to fund our vital public services.”