Sorry have no idea what violent crime has to do with Joe Swash failing to take his tax responsibilities seriously.
My point being that HMRC are quick off the mark these days when they could get money if they waited, and we dont know that that may be the case here as well.
Why should they wait? Whether it's corporation tax, VAT, or personal income tax, in all cases the monies due are a percentage of monies already earned, so the people owing the money know the bill is coming up at some point, and should be keeping the money back to pay it.
Joe got paid a pile of money, he knows he has to give a smaller pile of it over to HMRC, he should be keeping that pile back until they ask for it and there is no reason why HMRC should have to wait any longer than the payment terms they offer him and everyone else.
Even in the case of small businesses, certain of the VAT schemes allow for payment of the VAT only once their invoice has been paid rather than when it was written so cashflow is not really an excuse for not paying taxes either.
The only exception is in mistakes like the one you detail, but in the end the money wasn't due anyway, I appreciate that it shouldn't have got to the court stage though, that is ridiculous.