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‘Captain’ of replica U-boat charged with £1.1 million VAT fraud and money laundering after Customs raid on his submarine

The self-styled captain of a replica U-boat has been charged with £1.1million VAT fraud and money laundering after a Customs raid on his submarine.

‘Capt’ Richard Williams, 54, of Blackpool faces five fraud allegations alongside his partner Laurel, 32.

He has been charged under the naval title – and a series of other aliases he is claimed to have used – after the raid on his self-made barge in January 2012.

  • ‘Capt’ Richard Williams, 54, of Blackpool, faces five fraud allegations
  • He and partner Laurel, 32, charged with £1.1million VAT fraud
  • Relate to sale of disability products to individuals, rest homes and NHS.

The replica U8047 was moored outside the Royal Armouries at Leeds at the time of the customs raid, after Williams had toured the waterways of Northern Ireland and northern Britain.

Williams appeared before Manchester City Magistrates Court and was bailed to appear at Manchester Crown Court in May.

The charges relate to the sale of disability products to rest homes and the NHS – as well as to individuals.

Williams – also known as Stephen Howarth – and his partner were summonsed to appear at court 15 months after their original arrest.

In May 2011, Williams spoke to the Mail while touring around the Liverpool waterways dressed in full German submarine commander regalia.

He told reporters he was a former mobility scooter salesman and had spent more than £50,000 building the U boat.

He also revealed that the boat had been subject to attack from passers-by who thought that he was a Nazi.

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