By Kevin Unitt 23/05 Updated: 24/05 08:26
A LONG-serving Leamington licensee has expressed his dismay after being cleared of any involvement in a £60,000 conspiracy to defraud.
Kevin Murphy, of Murphy's Bar in Regent Street, was arrested earlier this year and then charged with a conspiracy to defraud the benefit system run by the Department of Work and Pension.
Six men and two women have pleaded guilty to their involvement and will be sentenced soon.
But Mr Murphy pleaded not guilty and prosecutor Laura Hobson said that following a review of the case it had been decided there was ‘no realistic prospect’ of a conviction, so Judge Marten Coates formally entered a not guilty verdict and ordered his costs to be paid from central funds.
At the previous hearing his solicitor, Peter Freeman, described him as ‘the tail-end Charlie in this.’
He explained that Murphy had been the longest-serving licensee in Leamington and provided a service to customers on a Friday by cashing cheques for them.
Mr Freeman said Murphy had innocently cashed two Giros for one of the other defendants, ‘and that is it.’
Mr Murphy, speaking to the Observer after being cleared, said: “I am relieved but more annoyed really that so much taxpayer money has been wasted when it was clear I had no involvement in this.
“I have been helping my customers for years by cashing cheques for them and will continue to do so, it has not put me off.
“Everyone knows I wouldn't have anything to do with a conspiracy to defraud.”
The court heard that the conspiracies to defraud the benefit system, through bogus crisis loan applications, covered a period from December 2010 until February this year, with false crisis loan applications costing the DWP around £60,000.
Crisis loans are available to people on benefit to meet unavoidable large expenditures such as a rent deposits.They are repayable, interest-free, by deductions being made from future benefit payments.
The eight defendants who pleaded guilty made fraudulent applications in a number of ways, including using the names of people who were serving prison sentences and providing the names of fictitious landlords who were supposedly asking for deposits.
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