Gill v Thomson

 

Summary

This gives guidance on benefit fraud.

 

Nature of the case

In this case, the High Court issued guidance for sentencers on the right approach to sentencing people who had committed benefit fraud.

 

Facts

Angela Veronica Gill pled guilty to a charge that she received £9,500 of Income Support to which she was not entitled. She was sentenced to two months imprisonment, discounted for an early plea from three months.

Jane Craig pled guilty to two charges, that she had received £7403 of Housing Benefit and £6,989 of Income Support to which she has not entitled. She was sentenced to four-and-a-half months’ imprisonment, discounted from six months for an early plea.

Catherine Montgomery pled guilty to a charge that she had received Disability Living Allowance in the amount of £ 17,189, to which she was not entitled. She was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment, discounted from eight months for an early plea.

 

Issue

This was appealed on the grounds that the sentences imposed were excessive and inappropriate and that non-custodial disposals (that is, sentences that do not involve imprisonment) ought to have been given. 

A bench of three judges considered the individual appeals, and looked at guideline cases from England and Wales on the same issue, to give guidance to Scottish judges on how to deal with similar cases. The judges also had regard to the sentencing guideline that was in place in England and Wales at that time. (The current guideline in force in England and Wales is: Fraud, bribery and money laundering offences: Definitive guideline).

  

Decision

The judges decided:

It was decided that the sentences given to Mrs. Craig and Mrs. Montgomery were correct, so their appeals were refused. 

In Ms Gill’s case, it was decided that a sentence of two months’ imprisonment was not appropriate and a community disposal was given instead.

 

Gill v Thomson