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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 13 March 2006

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Benefit cheats will be caught'

A BENEFIT cheat, who falsely claimed £13, 833 in benefits from the Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has been sentenced to a 12 month rehabilitation order and ordered to pay back the overpayment.

Christine Williams, 59, of Runcorn Road, Walton, Warrington, was sentenced at Warrington Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 28 February 06, after pleading guilty to failing to notify a change in circumstances.

Between October 2002 and August 2005 Williams defrauded the Council of £3,621.22 Council Tax and the DWP of £10,212.40 Income Support.

Williams was also ordered to pay £75 costs.

Adrian Webster, the Council's Benefits Manager, said:- "Benefit cheats must realise that they cannot abuse the benefit system and steal from the rest of society. They are not just defrauding the government, but their own tax paying neighbours and communities in Warrington.

Fraud is theft and this case is a clear demonstration of our determination to tackle benefit fraud. We are introducing new methods of data matching... the message now is benefit cheats will be caught - and we are reducing the amount of money lost through fraud and abuse."

Fraud Operations Manager for the DWP Roy Paul added:- "The public is fed up with cheats who steal money from the taxpayer when it should go to those in genuine need of help."

People in Warrington can give information about alleged fraudsters free and in confidence on the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440.

Merseyside Police Officers in for questioning

TOP police officers from Liverpool had a grilling by dozens of schoolchildren! Yes, they were in for "Questioning". About 30 youngsters quizzed Inspector Jerry Harris about policing matters and force policy, as well as giving their own views on tackling crime, at an event in Anfield Comprehensive School, Liverpool on Tuesday 7 March 06. The youngsters, who were all part of the Schools Council in Learning Network and were aged between six and 14. All of them were from nine primary and secondary schools in the north Liverpool area. Councillor Paul Clein, executive member for children's services, said:- "Children and teenagers are affected by crime and anti social behaviour more than adults. It's important that youngsters have the opportunity to put forward their views and concerns. They can also ask the experts to answer any questions they may have. I am delighted that Merseyside Police are taking the views of young people seriously."

Mayor charged with four counts of benefit fraud

SEFTON Cllr John Walker, who is the representative for Manor Ward and has been the Mayor of Sefton since April 2005, now looks as if he could soon lose the position of Mayor before the end of his term in office. This is because he has been charged with benefit fraud. The Labour councillor John Walker, 55, from Orrell, Bootle, was arrested on Monday 6 February 06 and questioned by officers from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The father of one, who is well known for taking his teenaged daughter to official Mayoral functions, denies any wrongdoing. He was re-questioned by DWP officials on Tuesday 9 March 06. On Wednesday 10 March 06, the department said he had been charged with four counts of benefit fraud and is due to appear before Sefton magistrates today, Monday 13 March 06. A Sefton Council spokesman said:- "We are aware of the situation involving Councillor Walker. However, we need to emphasise that none of the allegations are connected in any way to his role either as mayor or as a member of the council."


IAN David Redmond of Chetwood Avenue, Crosby, aged 40, was jailed this week for tax evasion related to 2.4 million smuggled cigarettes.

Ian Redmond had been found by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers, repackaging the cigarettes at warehouse premises in Liverpool back in December 2003. The consignment was found to contain 200 smuggled cigarettes, concealed in hollow plastic tubes labelled as industrial cling film.

HMRC officers noticed that some cigarettes had already been removed and placed in cardboard boxes in preparation for onward deliveries. Redmond was discovered removing cigarettes and repackaging them as the officers entered.

At Preston Crown Court, Redmond pleaded guilty in January 06 to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty totalling approximately £370,000 and on Monday 27 February he was jailed for 21 months. He now faces a confiscation hearing in the future.

HMRC Head of Investigations NW, Peter Hollier said:- "We have officers dedicated to tackling the problem of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes in towns and cities across the UK and although we have had a lot of success in the north west area we will continue to bear down on those determined to dupe the public for profit. Smokers who think, wrongly, they are getting a bargain don't realise that this trade damages honest businesses, costs billions in lost revenue and lines the pockets of criminals instead of funding public services. I urge members of the public, newsagents or off license trade that if you know of any suspicious activities that may be linked to tobacco smuggling call our 24-hour hotline 0800 59 5000."

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