‘I am going somewhere I cannot be found’ - Wanted manager of male strip group lived a secret life in Norfolk seaside town

Lauren Goodman. Picture: HMRC

Lauren Goodman. Picture: HMRC - Credit: Archant

The former manager of a London stripping troupe has been jailed for tax evasion and benefit fraud after she was found living a secret life on the Norfolk coast.

Boats sit on the still water at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

Boats sit on the still water at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

In July 2016, Laurel Goodman, 57, of Barnet in London, pleaded guilty to evading income tax to the value of more than £100,000, and to claiming benefits while working and earning with the male stripping group Dream Idols.

She was released on bail and was due to return to court for sentencing in September of that year but the day before she meant to appear, she wrote to her lawyer stating: “I am going somewhere where I am safe and cannot be found.”

It took investigators from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) more than a year to track her down and they eventually found her living in a £1,600-a-month rented house in Wells.

Goodman had been living under the alias of Chrissie Tatum and had been running Pet Superstars, a business making films advertising pet supplies, which had a turnover of more than £70,000 in 2016.

Wells quay bathed in afternoon sunshine. Picture: Ian Burt

Wells quay bathed in afternoon sunshine. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

The investigators alerted the police and she was arrested in an early morning raid on December 1, 2017.

She appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court via video-link from HM Prison Peterborough on Thursday and admitted skipping bail.

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The judge ordered Goodman to serve an extra four months on her original sentence of 28 months and called it “a serious attempt to evade justice”.

Confiscation proceedings are now underway to recover the money she stole.

Martin Brown, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Goodman tried to run but couldn’t hide from our investigators. She chose to abscond before being sentenced for cheating taxpayers and stealing money needed to fund vital public services.

“Despite moving to a remote location, where she lived under an assumed identity, she was tracked down, arrested and brought before the judge for sentence.”

Norfolk County Councillor and Wells resident, Dr Marie Strong, said: “I am somewhat surprised to hear about this but although it appears slightly amusing there will be those involved - however tangentially - who will have been hurt by these crimes.”

Goodman’s Dream Idols business partner, Barry Solomons, was also jailed for 28 months on September 19, 2016. He has now served his sentence.

If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud, report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.