North Wales magistrate sentenced at Warrington for fraud

11/02/2016

A magistrate from North Wales has been sentenced for fraud.

Warrington Crown Court heard that David Rees, 65, from St Anne's Gardens in Llandudno, had been claiming for salary he lost when he sat as a magistrate.

But the former Conwy County Council Superintendent Registrar didn't lose income when he performed the role - the Council gave him paid leave.

When challenged about the claims by a senior officer at the council, Rees said that he would pay back the Financial Loss Allowance (FLA) to the council.

He told the officer, "It would be income for Conwy". She said she would look into the matter but he never approached her about it again.

The Defendant had sat as a Magistrate on the Adult bench at Llandudno Magistrates Court since 1995.

On his FLA claim forms to the court service, Rees stated, "I am paid by my employer whilst sitting in court but am required to claim as close to this as possible and pass refund to them."

In a later claim he said: "Whilst sitting in court I am paid by my employers but pay back the amount claimed as FLA when applicable."

The claims were investigated by a fraud investigating officer at the courts service who discovered a discrepancy between the amount claimed by Rees and the amount paid back to the council.

The total shortfall was £9,839.93, yet, in his annual declaration, Rees said all of it was due to be paid back to the council.

Rees was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment for each of six counts of fraud by false representation. The jail term is suspended for two years. The court heard Rees is a carer for his mother who is blind and in poor health.

He must also do 280 hours of unpaid work and pay back the full amount of £9839.93 to his employers and £3000 in prosecution costs by 3 May 2016.

Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Rees wasn't paid for his work as a magistrate and the courts service reimburses those who lose money as a result of fulfilling their role.

"But Rees's employers gave him paid leave to sit and he didn't lose any salary. Rees said he paid all of the FLA back to the council but there are thousands of pounds unaccounted for.

"He said the arrangement was suggested by a council official when his role at the authority changed and he wasn't able to claim overtime payments any more.

"But there's no record of that and the official he named is no longer alive.

"Rees was found guilty after a trial and his reputation is now in tatters. A formerly public spirited man who volunteered to help with the justice system has now been given a suspended jail term himself and he has only himself to blame."