A BUSINESSMAN well-known in the region as a racehorse owner and football club president is facing jail for a tax-dodge.

Keith Sivills yesterday admitted providing false trading accounts and VAT returns for CB Construction (Cleveland) Ltd.

The 55-year-old, from Easington, near Saltburn, east Cleveland, will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court in the new year.

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Judge Howard Crowson granted him bail until his next appearance, but told him: “You are at risk of a prison sentence.”

Sivills is the president of Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side Whitby Town and has owned a number of national hunt horses.

He appeared in court smartly dressed and spoke only to confirm his name, enter his pleas and thank the judge.

Defence barrister Richard Fisher told Judge Crowson that he was of previous good character, and had many supporters.

Mr Fisher said he would gather a number of character references on Sivills's behalf before the next hearing on January 4.

Sivills admitted making false statements on accounts between 2007 and 2010, and on VAT returns between 2008 and 2009.

He does not currently have any racehorses in training, but had three hurdlers which won in the 2010-11 jump season.

Black Jacari, Pickworth and Avanos were all trained by Philip Kirby, based at Dibble Bridge, outside Castleton, near Whitby.

Sivills previously had several horses with Clive Mulhall who trains at Scarcroft, West Yorkshire.

Mr Fisher said: “These are clearly serious matters which resulted in loss to HM Revenue and Customs of £168,000.

“In the circumstances, this may well be a case where the custody threshold is passed, but may be a case where the court is asked whether that needs to be immediately so or otherwise.”

The court heard how Sivills has repaid more than the £168,000 he cheated from public funds.

It is not yet known how much the VAT swindle amounted to.