25 Apr 2014

More light sentencing for benefit fraud

More on sentencing for benefit fraud, continuing this week's series.

Tracy Johns, the "agoraphobic" who travelled the world on £50,000 of falsely claimed benefits, has been jailed for a year. So she'll be in prison for a few months. She's paid back £600 but she won't have to repay any more - it's all been spent. So that's all right then.

In Ringwood, "shopaholic" Nicola Rogers has been sentenced to 14 months in prison, while her husband Bryan received nine months, for a six-year fraud which between them netted a total of almost £69,000. Not long enough, according to the local MP. Desmond Swayne, the MP for New Forest West, said:
My gut view is that cheating on benefits is a serious matter and that message needs to be sent through the sentencing system. There’s nothing more infuriating for people who are working hard themselves and are up against it, having to pay their bills, having to struggle, than seeing other people cheat the system. It’s only right that it should have been a custodial sentence, preferably a longer one.
And finally to the West Country, where as we've noted before you can get a conditional discharge for benefit theft (it's not a real crime now, is it). Teresa Edwards helped herself to more than £8,000 of our money. Sentence? Plymouth Magistrates released her with a three-year conditional discharge, warning her that if she re-offends she may end up back in court. So that's all right too.

Benefit thieves do it for the money. They should have to pay back twice what they stole. They should not be eligible for any benefits until they have, and they should have to do some unpaid work every week until the debt to society is cleared.

That would be a deterrent.

A confiscation order should be made immediately.

Hit them in the pocket!

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