Morecambe benefit fraudster escapes jail sentence

COURT
Lancaster Magistrates Court. 23080411
COURT Lancaster Magistrates Court. 23080411

A self employed parcel delivery driver who was in debt turned to benefit fraud, a court heard.

Richard Laird, 47, of Hodder Avenue, Morecambe, was claiming Employment Support Allowance at the same time as working for a national parcel distribution company.

Despite claiming he was unfit for work due to ill health , had no work and no other income other than benefits, Laird built up a significant business delivering parcels.

He was charged with dishonestly failing to report a change in his circumstances to the DWP. Prosecuting, Peter Kelly told magistrates at Lancaster, that Richard Laird was co-habiting with his partner and was claiming ESA betwen January 20 and October 27, 2016, which led to an overpayment of benefits totalling £10,089.30.

Peter Kelly said: “During enquiries by DWP investigators, evidence became available to show that Richard Laird had been working as a self-employed delivery driver, contracting to a national parcels delivery company, and that he was in receipt of regular, monthly payments for this, betweenJanuary 20, 2015 and November 2016, when he ceased claiming benefits.following being interviewed by investigators.

“At interview he fully admitted he had begunt o deliver parcels on a self employed basis and he admitted doing this full time.

“He agreed he had received monthly payments which varied, month by month, according to the number of parcels he delivered.

In respect of his ESA, which was paid between January 20, 2015 and October 27, 2016, he admitted knowing he was under an obligation to report that he had begun work to the DWP, but had knowingly failed to do so and knew it was dishonest.”

Laird, who represented himself, told DWP investigators that his delivery round was quite smallwhen he first began his contract, but as time went on, he had taken on more ‘rounds’ and accordingly his business built up significantly.

He had made repeated unreserved admissions that he had failed to report the work.

His expression being “I hold my hands up”.

He had admitted that this had been an act of dishonesty on his part.

He explained he was in significant debt and he had taken this course of action purely in order to support his family.

Magistrates handed Laird a community order for 12 months with 80 hours unpaid work, and ordered him to pay £85 costs and £85 victim surcharge.