CPS brings benefits fraudster to justice


Lawyer secures European Arrest Warrant to bring Norman Brennan back to Britain

A benefits fraudster who fled the UK for the Costa del Sol ahead of his sentencing in 2008 has been jailed for three years.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith labelled the case as "outrageous" when it emerged 70-year-old Norman Brennan had been at large in Spain for five years.

He vowed to bring the pensioner back to face justice. Brennan had earlier admitted fraudulently claiming nearly £120,000 of various benefits before he skipped bail.

Some of the benefits were claimed in the name of his brother, Leslie, who had lived in Germany for nearly three decades.

Brennan, formerly of Netherton, was given bail when sentencing was adjourned in July 2008 but gave authorities the slip and left the country.

He was tracked down to the Spanish village of Mijas Costas and  the Crown Prosecution Service was asked to obtain a European Arrest Warrant to bring him back to Britain.

Carl Price, prosecution lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the Welfare Rural and Health division, said: "The Department for Work and Pensions and Sefton Council approached the CPS with a request to help obtain a European Arrest Warrant to secure the return of Mr Brennan to UK jurisdiction.

"Sefton Council are the prosecutors in the case but they do not have the statutory authority to apply for a European Arrest Warrant.  The CPS was therefore pleased to help them secure this for the arrest and extradition of Mr Brennan. 

"The application was made by me from the offices of the CPS in Liverpool and was approved by a local District Judge.

"The warrant had then to be translated into Spanish and was then sent to the Spanish authorities to facilitate Mr Brennans arrest.

"The entire application was progressed by the CPS within a matter of days and Mr Brennan was subsequently arrested and returned to the UK shortly afterwards.

"Sefton Council was then able to continue with the prosecution of Mr Brennan."

Sentencing Brennan at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge David Aubrey QC told him: "The law has finally caught up with you."

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: "This has been a very in-depth and complex case involving many different partner agencies and we are pleased with the outcome.

"Benefit fraud in any type or form is just not permitted and we will always try and recover any outstanding debts owed to us - no matter how old the debt is.

"Mr Brennan had previously pleaded guilty to seven charges of benefit fraud and thought he had escaped justice by leaving the country.

"His fraudulent claims totalled around £120,000 - money to which he was not entitled and which could have been used more appropriately by both Sefton Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

"Despite his residence in Spain, the case against Norman Brennan has never been dropped and Sefton Council, along with the Department for Work and Pensions, Merseyside Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), have been working together to secure his successful extradition.

"The assistance provided to us by both Merseyside Police and the CPS in order to obtain a European Arrest Warrant has been instrumental in order to secure the return of Mr Brennan to the UK.

"By working with partner agencies we have been able to arrive at this positive outcome which shows that we will never simply close a case unless all avenues have been pursued.

"The process of retrieving any monies outstanding to us and the Department for Work and Pensions has already commenced."