Court de­fers sen­tence on ben­e­fit cheat to al­low cheque to clear

The Oban Times - - The Oban Times & West Highland Times - COURT RE­PORTER fort@oban­times.co.uk

A BEN­E­FIT cheat who falsely claimed al­most £25,000 could be sent to jail, de­spite fi­nally mak­ing at­tempts to re­pay the money.

Pen­sioner Charles Wright, of Larch Cot­tage, Mon­u­ment Park, Stron­tian, ad­mit­ted at Fort Wil­liam Sher­iff Court to giv­ing false in­for­ma­tion to the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP) in March 2008.

The 73-year- old claimed he had only £4,000 of sav­ings and owned no other prop­er­ties. This al­lowed him to fraud­u­lently claim ben­e­fits of £24,340.52 be­tween March 2008 and June 2012. It later tran­spired the busi­ness­man owned mul­ti­ple prop­er­ties in Fort Wil­liam.

He also had cap­i­tal which had not been dis­closed in the ap­pli­ca­tion for pen­sion credit, namely a bank ac­count hold­ing more than £9,000 and a fur­ther bank ac­count which had in ex­cess of £16,000.

In March of 2016, Mr Wright, who has been de­scribed as hav­ing a cava­lier ap­proach to his fi­nances, was given three months to sell a house to cover the costs. At that time the court heard Wright would sell a semi- de­tached house at Caol which he had pre­vi­ously gifted to his daugh­ter.

Mr Wright ap­peared in Fort Wil­liam Sher­iff Court on Tues­day where de­fence lawyer Hamish Mel­rose ex­plained to Sher­iff Eric Brown that the case was one with quite a his­tory.

He then con­firmed £6,000 had al­ready been re­paid and re­vealed Mr Wright had brought a cheque for just over £16,000 to make up the bal­ance.

Mr Mel­rose asked for sen­tence to be de­ferred for a short pe­riod of time to en­sure the sum had been paid to the DWP and for the court to agree on pun­ish­ment there­after.

Sher­iff Brown said: ‘I de­fer for four weeks un­til July 19 to al­low the cheque to clear in resti­tu­tion.’

The sher­iff also added that only on con­fir­ma­tion of the re­pay­ment would an ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sion be made with re­gard to sen­tenc­ing.

Mr Wright ini­tially pleaded not guilty to the charges be­fore chang­ing his plea in June 2015. He has been warned a jail sen­tence will not be ruled out.

Sher­iff Richard David­son, who presided over the case at a pre­vi­ous hear­ing, said last year: ‘If you hadn’t abused the sys­tem you would not have re­ceived this money. There is no other word to de­scribe this than fraud. I can’t rule out im­pris­on­ment.’

Charles Wright.

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