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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Cumbrian man who conned almost £43,000 benefits ran mobile business

A mobile scissor sharpener scammed nearly £43,000 in benefits by claiming he was too ill to drive or work while motoring around the north west calling at hair salons to ply his trade.

Jordan Miller photo
Jordan Miller

Twenty-six-year-old Jordan Miller told authorities he was unable to leave the house in case he suffered an epileptic fit but, over four years, drove across the north west of England offering his knife sharpening skills to hairdressers.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Miller, who lived at Hadrian’s Camp, off Brampton Road, built up a “significant business” driving around in vehicles with a Mastersharp logo. Between August 2008 until April 2011 he cashed in cheques to the tune of £13,798 relating to that business.

“The evidence tends to indicate that he was driving all round the north, touting his scissor and knife sharpening at hairdressing salons,” said Judge Paul Batty QC.

“It was a significant business he was engaged in while claiming benefits.”

The court heard how Miller had been working both for himself and for a company from April 13, 2007 until April 8, 2011 while claiming income support and disability living allowance.

Prosecutor Tim Evans said the claims were initially started in good faith in 2005 but Miller, who was spared jail because his pregnant wife and two children rely on him, later failed to declare a change in circumstances.

“He was supposed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of any change, including improvements to his health or if he obtained work,” Mr Evans said.

The deception came to light when it emerged Miller had applied for a driving licence in which he said he was not suffering from epilepsy. The DWP mounted surveillance on him and discovered he had five vehicles registered in his name over the years.

“This showed an ongoing ability to drive despite what was being asserted about his epilepsy-related disability,” Mr Evans said.

Judge Batty commented that Miller, whose wife and father supported him in court, had been driving “all over the place”

“It was a significantly mobile business serving a large part of the north west,” Mr Evans said.

The total amount in overpayments was £42,660.12, made up from £28,269.47 in income support and £14,390.65 in disability living allowance, he said.

The court heard that Miller, who has two daughters aged three and 18 months and another child on the way, had shown remorse for what he had done. He intended to pay back all of the money and was doing so at £50 a month.

Judge Batty told Miller that he accepted he had not been making fraudulent claims from the start, but that it had gone on over a long time.

“This was at a time when you indicated to the department that you couldn’t drive because of epilepsy,” he said. “It was a reasonable business you had, providing for your family.”

He imposed a nine month jail term suspended for two years for two offences of obtaining benefits by deception, which Miller admitted. Miller, who has since moved to Gloucester, was also ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work and be on a 9pm to 6am curfew for four months.

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