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Defendant asked for trial by jury

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

A MAN from Gulval facing six charges of benefit fraud involving more than £4,000 declined to take part in his trial before Truro magistrates, insisting that he wanted to be tried by jury.

Legal adviser Renee Gallin told Kevin Singh, 42, of Gulval Cross, Gulval, that as his offences were summary only there could not be a Crown Court hearing with a jury, unless it went to appeal.

Singh failed to enter pleas to the charges, and opted to stay in court to listen to the hearing.

Accompanying him in the public gallery were 19 members of the public, some of whom delayed proceedings by protesting that they could not adequately hear what was being said.

The court adjourned while a hearing loop system was installed and earpieces were distributed to those who asked for them.

After several members spoke out from the gallery, chairman Tony Woodhams warned them that if they continued to do so they would be told to leave.

Without exception the supporters refused to stand when the Bench retired or returned.

Appearing as a McKenzie friend, or adviser, to Singh, was Jamie Upton, who informed the magistrates that he had a law degree and had a right of address. He was told by Ms Gallin this was not the case, and after this at times he prompted word by word what Singh said when he was asked a question. Singh declined offers to cross examine witnesses or to speak in his own defence.

Kevin Hill, prosecuting for Cornwall Council, said there were three offences of failing to give prompt notifications to Cornwall Council and the Department of Work and Pensions that Singh had started employment, affecting housing benefit, council tax and JSA payments; and three offences of making false representations to obtain the same three benefits.

There was a joint investigation by the council and DWP following an allegation that Singh was in paid employment while receiving benefit, working for John Becks fish and chip restaurant in Penzance and the Coffee Pot café in Penzance.

Because he filled in forms declaring that he was not in paid employment he received benefits totalling £4,303.04.

Evidence was given by George Stone from Becks; Robin Webb, from The Coffee Pot, Robert Davey, fraud investigation officer for the council; and Paul Ferris, a fraud officer for the DWP.

The chairman of the Bench announced that they would be making a community order for a year calling for 100 hours of unpaid work. Singh was told to pay £2,200 costs of bringing the case.

Singh handed to the court a notice of appeal.

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