Film producer facing jail after roping Peter O’Toole and Daryl Hannah into making a B movie using £1.5million fleeced from taxpayers

A film producer who roped a string of Hollywood stars into making a film using £1.5million fleeced from taxpayers is today facing jail.

Richard Driscoll, 54, submitted bogus VAT repayment claims to boost funding for horror-comedy Eldorado, which starred Peter O’Toole, Kill Bill actors Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and the late David Carradine.

The scam boosted the budget for the film, along with two other projects, Watchmen Hellgate and Back2Hell, from £1m to £2.5m, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The film was written and directed by Driscoll at his film studios in Cornwall, with O’Toole narrating, the court was told.

Brigitte Nielsen, Kerry Washington, Jeff Fahey, Steve Guttenberg and Bill Mosley also starred in the movie. 

The VAT repayment claims were made between January 2009 and September 2011 on the basis of false or imaginary invoices, said prosecutor Dominic Connolly.

‘Of the £2.5m actually available to fund the three films, approximately £1.5m came from VAT payments.

‘Substantial funds were obtained from HMRC by making claims for the repayment of VAT based on purported trading between associated companies that was either non-existent or grossly inflated.’

Driscoll claimed he simply signed the VAT returns but did not prepare them.

But he was caught out through a series of damning emails which exposed his ‘knowledge and participation in the use of false invoices to distort the VAT position’.

A jury of four women and seven men found Driscoll guilty of conspiracy to be knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of tax after deliberating for nearly 27 hours.

But the jury cleared Driscoll and three co-defendants of a second scam to ‘grossly inflate’ the costs of Eldorado in order to fradulently obtain a further £1.7m in tax relief. 

Driscoll, together with solicitor Terry Marsh, 45, accounts manager Richard Pearce, 65, and acting agency director Darren Moore, 42, were accused of claiming they had spent more than £9million on the film, in a bid to claw back 25 per cent through the Film Tax Credit scheme.

Among the stars roped into the film were Peter O’Toole (left)  and Kill Bill actress Daryl Hannah (right)

Michael Madsen (left) and the late David Carradine (right) also starred in the horror-comedy – which is yet to be released

The incentive was introduced by the Government to boost the film industry.

They were said to have ‘grossly inflated’ the project’s costs by forging a string of invoices for ‘expenses’ – including Driscoll’s hair transplant surgery.

A fifth alleged conspirator, Keith Howell, has since died.

All  had denied conspiracy to do acts tending to prejudice Her Majesty the Queen and the Public Revenue with intent to defraud her Majesty the Queen.

They also denied conspiracy to be knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of tax.

Driscoll will be sentenced on July 1.

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