Tax credit fraudster tagged

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A fraudster was told to stay at home from 9pm to 5am when a restriction of liberty order was imposed at Campbeltown sheriff court.

Nearly two months ago, Joan McCallum, 47, of 19A Calton Avenue, Campbeltown pleaded guilty to obtaining payments of tax credits to the value of £29,000 by failing to report a material fact, namely that she was living with her husband Niall McCallum.

In addition a hearing was set, for January 11 next year, to determine whether a confiscation order should be made on McCallum’s property under proceeds of crime legislation.

In mitigation last Thursday, McCallum’s defence agent Christian Kane said she accepted responsibility and that she posed little risk of re-offending.

He emphasised that although £29,00 seemed a lot of money most was used for child care and not extravagances.

In August the court was told that between April 6 2011 and July 29 2016 McCallum had obtained the child tax credits while her husband was in full time employment as a lorry driver.

At that hearing, procurator fiscal depute Eoin McGinty explained that working tax credits are a means tested benefit and that on October 27 2015 HMRC received an anonymous call.

The caller said McCallum was living with her partner between the specified dates and had been receiving payments.

The court was told details about where  McCallum’s husband had worked and the nature of the employment.

Mr McGinty said: ‘McCallum was interviewed by HMRC officers and demonstrated considerable understanding of the benefits system.’

Summing up, Sheriff Patrick Hughes said that but for McCallum’s remorse she could have faced at least 12 months in prison.