7 Dec 2010

Benefit thief intimidated witness

A benefit swindler who threatened to kill a council worker's husband has "narrowly" (says thisisdevon) avoided jail.

Cameron Provan, from Sticklepath, was given a suspended prison sentence at a crown court hearing in Barnstaple after pleading guilty to two charges of benefit fraud and one charge of intimidating a witness.

Provan, who had a history of benefit fraud, shouted at Kim Trodd, who worked in the benefit department at North Devon Council, in the street after she gave a statement about his circumstances.

Her statement had supported the finding that Provan and his partner, Heidi Lawrence, who had pretended to be living as landlord and tenant, had cheated more than £16,500 in benefits over eight years, the court heard.

Lawrence, 32, a care worker at Chelfham Mill School, which helps boys with emotional and behavioural problems, was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,560 compensation at an earlier hearing.

Provan was due to be sentenced in October but probation could not prepare a report because he had been "difficult to handle", the court heard.

The hearing this week was told Provan had approached Mrs Trodd in a street near their home on August 26.

Provan lived on the same housing estate in Roundswell.

Provan repeatedly swore at her and said he was going to kill Mrs Trodd's husband, the court heard.

Mrs Pitts said: "The whole incident has left her family very shaken up.

"Her husband is withdrawn. They have to lock their doors and she worries whenever someone knocks on her door."

For the defence, Nigel Wraith said Provan had an "emotional outburst" but had not tried to pursue Mrs Trodd or stop her attending court.

Mr Wraith said Provan suffered paranoia and anxiety, problems exacerbated by his £200-a-month cannabis habit.

He said: "He wants to start making a contribution to society and being a good father. He wants closure on the past 30 years of his life." (He is 39.)

Recorder Corinne Searle sentenced Provan to 200 hours of unpaid work for each offence to run concurrently.

For intimidating a witness Provan was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a two-year supervision order.

A 12-month restraining order was made to stop Provan approaching or contacting the Trodd family.

He was made to pay £80 costs.

Miss Searle said: "I think the court is taking a bit of a risk with you. The report says the court needs to be convinced you are committed to changing your ways. I hope you do not disappoint."

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