AN accountant has been jailed at York Crown Court for five years after admitting a four-year £320,000 fraud involving 20 business accounts and the taxman.

Brian Ridyard specialised in handling the accounts of self-employed people and small businesses.

Among the 20 sets of accounts he mishandled are those for a beauty salon, an electrician, a transport firm, a security firm, a decorating firm and a specialist vehicle maintenance firm. Many of the businesses are based in North or East Yorkshire.

Ridyard, 64, of Duna Way, Kirkbymoorside, aimed to make £320,000 for himself by not disclosing the financial details to HM Revenue and Customs that all accountants are obliged to do by law, for more than four years.

He admitted 20 charges of dishonestly failing to disclose information and thereby intending to make a gain for himself. Each charge relates to a different set of accounts.

York Magistrates’ Court earlier heard that the offences occurred in Selby between January 1, 2012, and July 12, 2016. The total of the gains is £321,542.

The most he gained from a single business is £58,500 from a transport firm, the least is £571.