Jail for ben­e­fits cheat who stole £9000 to pay debts

Evening Times - - NEWS - By CATRIONA STE­WART

A BEN­E­FITS cheat conned tax pay­ers out of more than £9000 af­ter his fam­ily ran up debts to crim­i­nals.

James McQuil­ter failed to tell the Depart­ment of Works and Pen­sions (DWP) that he was in paid em­ploy­ment.

In­stead, he al­lowed the ben­e­fits ser­vice to keep pay­ing him cash he wasn’t en­ti­tled to – to a sum of £9331.48.

In court, the 46-year-old claimed his brother had stolen cash from a crime gang and he had been threat­ened to cough up.

He used the fraud­u­lently ob­tained ben­e­fits cash to pay back the men threat­en­ing him.

McQuil­ter, of Bridgeton, was claim­ing em­ploy­ment and sup­port al­lowance af­ter fail­ing to tell the DWP he was now work­ing.

His brief said: “He came un­der par­tic­u­lar fi­nan­cial pres­sure.

“His brother stole a large amount of money from the wrong peo­ple to steal from.

“They pur­sued the debt against Mr McQuil­ter and his fa­ther.”

Glas­gow Sher­iff Court heard McQuil­ter works six days a week for two hours a day.

He had a se­ri­ous con­vic­tion for a crime around 20 years ago but, the court was told, he has had a clean record since.

Ini­tially, McQuil­ter told so­cial work­ers car­ry­ing out a so­cial jus­tice re­port on him that he was the real vic­tim in the sit­u­a­tion.

But his de­fence brief said he has now changed his tune. The lawyer said: “[The so­cial work] re­port is a de­cent re­port. He does ac­cept that he should have ad­vised the DWP.

“In the re­port, he thinks he is the vic­tim but he knows now the only vic­tim is the tax payer.

“His last se­ri­ous con­vic­tion was 1998.”

Sher­iff Wil­liam Tot­ten said:“I have to take the view that I have to fol­low the guide­lines the court is re­quired to take in cases like this to re­flect the se­ri­ous na­ture of this kind of of­fence.

“This is some­thing that ef­fects the en­light­ened sys­tem we have in place in this coun­try of help­ing peo­ple who re­quire it.

“I con­sider, there­fore, in view of the se­ri­ous na­ture of this crime a cus­to­dial sen­tence is the only op­tion.”

The sher­iff handed down a sen­tence of four months in prison.

James McQuil­ter ap­peared be­fore Glas­gow Sher­iff Court over the ben­e­fits fraud to­talling more than £9000

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