Somali benefits cheat who swindled £39,000 to support two families is spared jail because it will cost taxpayer the same amount again if he's locked up

  • Karmal Mustafa was let off a one year prison term because he had cost the public purse enough, Judge Hagen said
  • Mustafa claimed benefits for being unable to work - but had a job all the time

By Martin Robinson

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Free man: Judge Hagen said that Mustafa should not be jailed because it would just cost the taxpayer even more money

Free man: Judge Hagen said that Mustafa should not be jailed because it would just cost the taxpayer even more money

A Somali benefits cheat has been spared jail because the judge sentencing him said the cost of locking him up for a year would be the same as the amount he swindled.

Karmal Mustafa dishonestly claimed £38,856.50 of income support, council tax and housing benefit while working over a seven-year period to support two families.

He told investigators the money he was sending overseas helped support his sick father - but then told his barrister his father and mother had both been killed in front of his eyes in Somalia 14 years ago.

But despite this discrepancy Judge Carol Hagen told Bristol Crown Court that he would not go to prison.

'£39,000 is what it costs to keep one man in prison for a year. Do I wish to burden the state further with another £38,000 to £40,000, much as I think it is deserved?' she said.

Instead the judge handed Mustafa a 24-week suspended sentence, ordered him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 costs.

The court heard 29-year-old Mustafa was using his dual income to support two families - one in his native Somalia and one in Bristol.

Simon Emslie, prosecuting, said Mustafa fraudulently obtained £25,676.20 in income support between 2004 and last year.

He said that over the same time, Mustafa pocketed £10,297.49 in housing benefit and £2.882.81 in council tax benefit.

 

The court heard the benefits were claimed on the basis Mustafa was unfit to work, but he had actually had a job.

He managed to evade detection because of inadequate employers’ records and by giving different addresses, bank account and national insurance numbers, Mr Emslie said.

Mustafa told the Department for Work and Pensions he had worked since 2004 and he did not inform them because he was regularly sending £800 to £1,000 to Somalia to support his family, including his father, who had cancer.

The court heard he had paid back £200 in income support and £520 in council tax benefit.

Scam: Bristol Crown Court, pictured, heard how the Somali man was pocketing benefits for not being able to work while having a job

Scam: Bristol Crown Court, pictured, heard how the Somali man was pocketing benefits for not being able to work while having a job

Judge Hagen asked Paul Cook, defending: 'If he was sending £800 to £1,000 to Somalia, why is he not paying that to the Department for Work and Pensions?'

Mr Cook said his client had only been able to do that because he was living off his fraudulent benefits, and sending his earnings out of the UK.

Mr Cook described Mustafa’s early life in Somalia as 'hell', and said he had seen his mother and father killed when he was aged 15, and seen his brothers and sisters killed a year later.

The court heard that in 2005 Mustafa married a girl from his village, who gave birth to twins who both died - one of them three days before the hearing.

Mustafa now has two children and one on the way with another woman, who came to the UK in 2007, does not speak English and is 'utterly dependant' on him, Mr Cook said.

Judge Hagen asked: “Why is it that a man facing serious criminal charges embarks on a third child? It seems seriously irresponsible.”

Mr Cook said: 'He only intended one child.'

The judge replied: 'He’s a grown man. He can take his own preventative measures.'

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Wouldn't it be even cheaper to put them on a boat?

Click to rate     Rating   10

"Is spared ajil" again???? All this will do is encourage others to work the system and that, too, is a no win situation. Seizing their assets and banging them up for a few years - with minimal prisoner comforts - will send a more positive message from the taxpayers.

Click to rate     Rating   13

I would jail the idiot who let him and his wife into the country.

Click to rate     Rating   30

The pregnant woman came here 5 years ago but speaks no english! Not even attempting to integrate

Click to rate     Rating   26

Sentenced to 250 hours of work- that works out at £252 per hour. Nice.

Click to rate     Rating   19

what short of judge we employ in u.k.

Click to rate     Rating   17

Thats right judge you show em! set a fine example which will obviously deter others.

Click to rate     Rating   28

And yet another one. No comment, it's pointless

Click to rate     Rating   34

surprise surprise, ripped off again and again and again. is it any wonder so many outsiders wnat to come here?? cos even if you get caught - nothing happens.

Click to rate     Rating   45

Throw him and his brood out at the earlist opportunity. - John, Wales, United Kingdom, NaN/NaN/NaN NaN:NaN ..................................................Now, today, this week. Then sack the stupid idiotic so called judge Hagen. Now. We cannot afford these people on the benefit system, nor can we afford judges like him. Get shot of them both NOW. Cameron get a grip, do something for the British people now while we still employ you.

Click to rate     Rating   62

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