A Turkish man convicted of cheating the State out of more than £81,000 in benefits has walked free from Gloucester Crown Court after blaming his ex-wife for his predicament. (h/t Dave)
Resul Cerikan, 60, formerly of Penrith Road, Cheltenham, but now living in his car after being evicted from his rented home, had denied nine offences of making false statements to obtain benefits.
His case was that his British wife had 'duped' him and 'played him for a fool' by getting him to sign paperwork he had not realised he was signing and then having him 'kicked out of the matrimonial home' near Tetbury.
But at the end of a four-day trial the jury convicted him unanimously of seven of the charges and by a majority verdict on the other two charges.
His offences stemmed from him failing to declare his part ownership of a property in Sunground, Avening, near Tetbury, the court was told.
Recorder Malcolm Gibney sentenced Cerikan, who has prostate cancer, to 21 months jail suspended for two years with supervision for six months.
Cerikan's solicitor, Lloyd Jenkins, said Cerikan still protested his innocence and was 'somewhat troubled' by the jury's verdicts. "Whether or not those verdicts are grounds for appeal are a matter for another day and another court," he said. "But here and now he has to be content with the verdicts of the jury."
Mr Jenkins said Cerikan had come to the UK in 1985 and had worked hard, not relying on the State in any way, until 'things went wrong for him' when he had an accident which left him unable to work. "He is now sleeping in a car having been evicted from his home on September 14 by the local authority," said Mr Jenkins. "He was kicked out of his matrimonial home because she knew his rights but he didn't. She took advantage and played him for a fool."
Recorder Gibney told Cerikan "The jury has heard a lot of evidence about the way in which you came to claim benefits between 2002 and 2010. "They have convicted you of dishonestly making false statements on the relevant claim forms. As a result you secured benefits of over £80,000. The case is unusual. You are a 60-year-old man of hitherto good character. You came to this country in 1985 and worked diligently and assiduously in a variety of jobs, earning a good living. You had the misfortune to have an accident at work. You were then absent from work and you and your wife were in financial difficulties. That prompted an application for benefit. Unfortunately thereafter there followed a road traffic accident when you were hit by an uninsured driver. That has given rise to a significant injury and it made your position even more difficult when it came to secure employment.
"You and your then wife separated and divorced. You remained in the property which, it seems, she has lived in all her life. You were ignorant of the fact that you didn't have to leave and you were persuaded to leave. Over time, you were persuaded and cajoled by your ex wife to prevail on members of your family to help out to the point that over the years you and your ex wife were loaned something in excess of £100,000. The bulk of the money has been spent on the property which is of non standard construction and is not realistically mortgageable. Your wife, to a large extent, has spent the money on doing the place up and creating a comfortable environment to live in. Over time, on her own admission, she has on occasions tricked you into signing legal documentation in relation to the transfer of land adjacent to the property and in relation to loan documentation.
"To that extent you have been the author of her guile and have simply added to your own misfortune. But the jury has found that in other matters you knew what you were doing when you signed the forms. You are an intelligent and well educated man and you have a very good command of the English language.
"A benefits sum of this nature would normally mean an immediate prison sentence. But I am told and I accept that you are suffering from prostate cancer and as a result of these proceedings you have been evicted from your local authority home and are currently living in a vehicle. I have to respect the verdicts of the jury but as a result of the mitigation I have heard I think it is right, exceptionally, to suspend sentence.
"The local authority have their rights to pursue both you and, I venture to suggest, your ex-wife to recover the money that has been unlawfully spent keeping you and her in the property in which she still currently resides. "