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Benefit fraud grandad who owned Weston-super-Mare properties to repay £30k

By The Bristol Post  |  Posted: March 27, 2013

Adrian Callen

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A grandfather who fraudulently claimed some £70,000 of benefits, despite owning ten properties, has been ordered to pay up nearly £30,000.

Adrian Callen lied to Bristol City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions to claim £59,886 in income support, £8,923 in council tax allowance and £4,882 in job seekers allowance over eight years.

By the time he was caught in 2011 he owned and rented out numerous properties in Weston-super-Mare, Bristol and Cardiff, Bristol Crown Court heard.

The 57-year-old, from Winford Grove, Bedminster Down, repeatedly fraudulently filled in forms, lied in interview and failed to update either body about any changes in his circumstances.

He pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud.

Jailing him for six months in November last year, Judge Julian Lambert told him: “What you did was deliberate and greedy.

“Yours was one of the worst types of this fraud.

“This behaviour makes honest folk who struggle to get by feel sick. Your behaviour incites ill-feeling towards genuine benefit claimants who deserve sympathy and compassion.”

Yesterday, Callen was back in court for a Proceeds of Crime Application (POCA) to claw back his ill-gotten gains. It was agreed Callen’s criminal benefit was actually £68,673 and his available assets of £29,542.92 were confiscated.

Judge Lambert sanctioned that, from the confiscated sum, the Department of Work and Pensions receive compensation of £23,609.92 and Bristol City Council receive £5,933.

Callen, whose main asset was the home where he lives with his son, was given six months to pay or face eight months’ prison in default.

Earlier Alan Fuller, prosecuting, said that between 2002 and 2011 Callen had bought properties in Cardiff, Weston, and Avonmouth. In addition he had bought three flats in Weston and three in Bedminster.

Despite his property portfolio Mr Fuller said Callen consistently filled in forms and said in interviews that he had few savings, no capital and owned no property.

On analysis it was found that on some occasions Callen had more than £50,000 in his account when he made the claims.

The first property he bought in Cardiff for £38,000 he later sold for £107,000, the court also heard.

Mr Fuller said Callen had so far paid £2,500 back to Bristol City Council and £2,000 to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Timothy Rose, defending, said Callen had been forced to stop working so he could care for his four-year-old grandchild.

“He invested in property but didn’t make much money out of it,” Mr Rose said.

Mr Rose argued that immediate custody would mean his grandson would have to be passed between family members to care for him but Judge Lambert told Callen he had no option but to jail him.

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