28 Jul 2014

Scandalously light benefit fraud sentences

A couple who fraudulently claimed £120,000 in benefits have been spared jail because they have four children. (h/t Dave)

Amanda Casserley, 34, and Andrew Hayes, 39, were told they should be sent to jail for their crimes but they were let off because the judge was worried about what would happen to their brood.

Casserley claimed £106,000 in state support for single parents over a ten-year period including income support, council tax, housing benefits and tax credits.

But she rekindled her relationship with Hayes, the father of her children, in 2003 and failed to report it to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Hayes paid £150,000 into Casserley's bank account over five years and also claimed £15,000 in benefits himself despite having a well-paid job.

The pair, who were caught after an anonymous tip-off, pleaded guilty to benefit fraud but judge Mr Recorder Nicholas Hall took pity on them and spared them jail. Instead they were each handed 12-month suspended sentences.

Sentencing the couple from Bournemouth, Dorset, the judge said:
Amanda Casserley and Andrew Hayes, you are both a disgrace - that's the only way to describe you. You have defrauded the state for a period of 10 years in a deliberate and callous way. While it's fair to say you did not have a grand life defrauding the state, you had a comfortable one. In many ways I regret this sentence, because you should be going to prison but your children's welfare is uppermost in my mind.
Nick Robinson, prosecuting, told Bournemouth Crown Court that Casserley had legally claimed benefits for five years but had not informed the DWP that she was no longer a single mother. He said that Casserley had initially told DWP investigators that Hayes was not the father of her children while Hayes told them he was not Casserley's partner and the pair did not live together.

However, investigators did not believe the story and they were charged with dishonestly failing to notify changes of circumstances, acquiring criminal property and of being knowingly concerned with fraudulent payment of tax.

Susan Jones, mitigating for Hayes, told the court he suffered from Asperger's Syndrome and that he was a recovering alcoholic: 'He's a hard working family man. The motivation behind this offence was to provide for his family.'

Francisca da Costa, representing Casserley, said the couple had spent long periods estranged from one another.

Mr Recorder Hall sentenced Casserley to 12 months in jail suspended for two years, as well as 180 hours of unpaid work.

Hayes was also given 12 months, suspended for two years, and a curfew to stay at home between 7pm and 5am.

Yes, please roll up and help yourselves to our money, and provided you are both involved and have children, nothing much very bad will happen to you.


Pictures of this delightful couple


Anonymous said...

Send him to prison for a year, he comes out then she goes in.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, stagger their sentences so they both do the time.