Picture: Pixabay

London - A fraudster convicted of a £1million tax scam fled the UK by persuading a flying instructor to drop him off in France during a lesson, a court has heard.

Jamie Colwell, 51, and his father Brian, 74, had been on bail and facing lengthy prison sentences after lying about building £14million of new properties over six years and reclaiming the VAT.

Jamie spent the proceeds on renting a £2.8million seafront property in Dorset and bought a speedboat and high-performance cars. He admitted two counts of fraud, while his father pleaded guilty to one count of acquiring criminal property.

A police hunt began when the pair failed to turn up for a sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court in January.

The court heard last week that Jamie booked a flying lesson in Kent, and when it entered French airspace he convinced the instructor to land and let him out. His father was driven out of the UK via Dover in his new Porsche. Both men were tracked to Spain in May.

Jamie was jailed for five years and three months and his father for two years and eight months. Both were also given an extra six months for breaching bail.