3rd December 2010
W. J. Bailhache, Q.C., Deputy Bailiff, and Jurats Tibbo and Marett-Crosby
The Attorney General
Liam Anthony Morin
Sentencing by the Inferior Number of the Royal Court, following a guilty plea to the following charge:
1 count of:
Failing to notify a change of circumstances to the Social Security Department, contrary to Article 16(c) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007 (Count 1).
Details of Offence:
The defendant was for some years legitimately in receipt of income support. At the time of his initial receipt of income support and until late 2008 he was working full time. However the defendant suffers from a heart condition and was subsequently certified as being unfit for work.
In February 2009 an investigation was initiated into the defendant's circumstances. On 13th February, 2009, an Income Support Review form was issued to the defendant. On 18th March, 2009, the defendant signed and returned the form without declaring any income. Enquiries confirmed that the defendant had worked as a self-employed DJ at a hotel since at least 2002.
Further investigations followed and the defendant was interviewed by officers from the Social Security Department on 6th November, 2009. He admitted that he had worked as alleged and that he had not declared the income, and had been overpaid a total of £10,222.20. The defendant agreed with the figures and signed an agreement to repay the overpaid money at a rate of £180 a month. He is assessed as being at low risk of re-offending and has no previous convictions. The probation officer confirms that a suitable community service placement could be found for the defendant despite his ill health.
Details of Mitigation:
Guilty plea; co-operative; remorse; money not used for luxuries; voluntarily repaying the money; suffering from disabilities; previous good character.
120 hours' Community Service Order or 6 months' imprisonment in default.
Sentence and Observations of Court:
Ordered to repay the outstanding monies.
R. C. P. Pedley, Esq., Crown Advocate.
Advocate S. A. Pearmain for the Defendant.
THE DEPUTY BAILIFF:
1. Mr Morin, between January 2008 and November 2009 you were taking income from the Social Security Department by way of income support and on the 18th March, 2009, you withheld material information from the Social Security Department, namely the receipt of income from your employment as a Disc Jockey at the Hotel Ambassadeur.
2. In fact the income that you were getting should have been declared from the outset. The claim was a fraudulent claim to that extent and known to be fraudulent. It is a fraud committed on the public of Jersey and you obtained, as a result, benefits which you were not entitled to obtain. It is no different in principle from other forms of fraud and in principle offences of this kind would normally call for a custodial sentence to be imposed, and that would be measured in years and not in months.
3. However, in this case the Court is not going to impose a custodial sentence and in deciding not to do so we want to say that it is really an act of compassion and an act of mercy which takes into account also the substantial amounts of mitigation which are available to you. In particular we take account of your guilty plea; your immediate acknowledgement of guilt; we take into account the disabilities that you have and your remorse; the fact in particular that the money was not used on luxury items but spent on your family, and the fact that you have voluntarily been paying back the monies which you obtained and which you should not have had. Nonetheless, you catch the Court, as I say, in a compassionate mode today because many of those features might be available in other cases and leaving aside the disability from which you suffer, which is exceptional, it is very probable that a custodial sentence would have been imposed.
4. The Crown's conclusions will be granted and 120 hours' community service is what you are sentenced to perform, which is the equivalent to 6 months' imprisonment, which would otherwise have been the custodial sentence which would have been imposed. The Court also makes a Compensation Order for the balance which is due (the amount due to be agreed between the Crown and the defence) and you will have a period of 5 years to pay that money back with liberty to apply. I have deliberately fixed a period of five years to make sure you have enough time to pay it back but it seems to the Court that you should no doubt wish to continue paying at or around the figure you are currently paying.
5. For the record the Court notes and adopts the sentencing principles which are set out in the cases of R-v-Graham and Whatley  1 Cr App R (S) 115 but we do not adopt the sentencing tariffs discussed in those cases which are left open for a future occasion.
R-v-Graham and Whatley  1 Cr App R (S) 115.