Dr Who, Inter-galactic Law and the Crown Court
Part of a very enjoyable Easter break has been spent watching the new Dr Who, which I thought was terrific.
I was a bit non-plussed however when the good Doctor berated the predatory aliens by pointing out that incinerating a harmless planet would be contrary to inter-galactic law. As a mere Earthling I know nothing about the inter-galactic law to which he referred, and I felt confused and out of my depth. Would it really be a clear breach of the law? How would it be enforced? And by whom? What evidence was necessary to show that the unlucky planet really had posed no threat? Hmmm.
It took me straight back to the moment, earlier in the week, when I had been listening in Crown Court to the defendant's evidence. "How could I be guilty of money laundering?" he asked. "I don't even know what it is!"
It sounded like a heart-felt plea. But guilty he was - and he received a suspended sentence for the money laundering and for benefit fraud.
He had claimed State Benefits without declaring his full income as a self-employed builder or his possession of over £60,000 in neat bundles of £20 notes in a safe at his home. That was the benefit fraud.
As for the money laundering, he had received some of the State Benefits some years ago in the form of girocheques, which he had signed on the back so that his wife could cash them at the local Post Office. That amounted to converting criminal property (money laundering) contrary to s327 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
So whilst he was genuinely confused and out of his depth, he had indeed committed the crime he so little understood.
The total benefit fraudulently obtained was just short of £6,000, over a period of rather more than 6 months. The offences, as some readers will already have spotted, are sufficient for him to be deemed to have a 'criminal lifestyle' for confiscation purposes. He is now at risk of being wiped out.
Rather like the inhabitants of planet Earth in the Dr Who episode. They were saved by the intrepid Doctor and his sonic screwdriver. But who will save the benefit fraudster?