Darlington couple caught out after staging fake burglary

First published in Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Darlington)

A CASH-STRAPPED couple faked a burglary so they could obtain a crisis loan, a court heard.

Jamie Walton, 25, and his partner, Billie-Jo Webster, also 25, called the police saying a burglary had happened at the house they share in Pensbury Street, Darlington, on August 9 this year.

Hari Jandoo, prosecuting, said: “They had reported a burglary had taken place at their property, but that certainly wasn’t the case.

“Once an offence has been reported the police have to set things in motion. It transpired that this burglary was a bogus burglary because it didn’t take place at all.”

He told Darlington Magistrates’ Court the pair had wasted about 12 hours of police time while they investigated the bogus burglary.

Following the alleged burglary, the court heard Walton applied for a crisis loan of £116, normally used to fund essentials following a disaster or emergency.

Chris Bunting, mitigating, said the couple, who have a young son together, were struggling at the time they committed the offences.

He told the court the pair had only recently started a joint benefit claim and were in need of some extra money.

He said: “It was an unsophisticated idea in order to get a crisis loan.”

The pair both pleaded guilty to two charges each of fraud by false representation and wasting police time.

Chairman of the bench, Patricia Wilson, sentenced Walton to a 12 month community order with 40 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £25 towards the cost of the case.

Webster’s case was stood down for a probation report and she was given unconditional bail.

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