CHATTERIS: Court orders man illegally selling exotic animals while claiming benefits to pay £20,000
A CONFISCATION order against a man illegally selling exotic animals whilst fraudulently claiming benefits has netted more than £20,000.Police officers, along with Fenland District Council and the RSPCA, conducted an investigation into Paul Grange, of Yor
A CONFISCATION order against a man illegally selling exotic animals whilst fraudulently claiming benefits has netted more than £20,000.
Police officers, along with Fenland District Council and the RSPCA, conducted an investigation into Paul Grange, of York Road in Chatteris. A number of exotic animals were found at his home, which he had been advertising on the internet. He had also failed to notify his district council of his bank balances on three occasions while making an application for benefits to which he was not entitled.
In April, Grange pleaded guilty to three counts of obtaining property by deception and was given a nine month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to attend a skills for life course.
On Friday (October 17) a confiscation hearing was held at Cambridge Crown Court. Judge Howarth declared an amount of £23,176.04 should be confiscated from Grange. A proportion of this money will go to Fenland District Council by way of compensation.
Last year (April 2007 to end of March 2008), financial investigators in central division, which covers Huntingdonshire and Fenland, netted £93,968.64.
In the first six months of this financial year, alone, £99,114.14 has been subject to a confiscation order.
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Police are able to instigate confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act where it can be proved that an offender has benefited financially from their criminality. The criminal benefit is assessed, and an amount for confiscation is ordered by the court. If the offender fails to pay the confiscation amount, a prison sentence is imposed in default (the confiscation amount still has to be payed on their release).
The confiscated amount, once paid, goes to HM Courts Service and is divided between the Home Office, which gets a half, and the courts, CPS, and the police, who get a sixth each.
Superintendent Paul Fullwood said: "This is excellent work from the financial investigators involved and all officers who worked on these cases.
"Officers are always looking to instigate financial investigations against offenders to ensure they do not profit from their crimes.