Bristol man with 10 properties jailed for benefit fraud

A Bristol man who claimed benefits while accumulating a portfolio of 10 properties he rented out has been jailed for six months.

Adrian Callen, 57, of Winford Grove, Bedminster Down, pleaded guilty to nine offences of dishonesty and making false representations.

Bristol Crown Court heard he claimed £73,000 over eight years from 2002.

Judge Julian Lambert told him his actions had been "deliberate and greedy".

The court heard that Callen bought and renovated properties in Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Cardiff, which he rented out.

Timothy Rose, defending, said Callen began claiming benefits when he became the sole carer for his grandson so could not work.

'Pursued by bailiffs'

He said Callen began investing in property, but did not make much money from it.

"He was mortgaged to the hilt, he still is, and now he's in an utter mess as well," Mr Rose said.

"It is estimated he owes up to £800,000 in mortgage debt, most of the properties are in negative equity and that's the position investment speculations have left him in.

"He's being pursued by the bailiffs."

He said Callen was "not a sophisticated man despite what he's done".

Sentencing him, the judge said that while Callen's two previous convictions for dishonesty were "ancient", he "knew perfectly well what fraud was".

He said it was one of the worst examples of this type of fraud he had seen and that it "makes honest folk who struggle to get by sick".

The judge told Callen he was giving him a reduced sentence as an "act of mercy" to his grandson, not him.

Confiscation proceedings were adjourned until 21 March.

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