Benefit cheat seeking jury trial plans appeal
A GULVAL man convicted by magistrates of benefit fraud totalling more than £4,000 has vowed to take his battle for the right to trial by jury to the highest courts in the land.
Kevin Singh, 42, of Gulval Cross, Gulval, has appealed the outcome of last month's hearing where he faced six charges of receiving benefits while in paid employment.
At that hearing, Singh insisted that he wanted a trial by jury but was told that as his offences were summary only there could not be a Crown Court hearing with a jury, unless it went to appeal.
Singh, who describes himself as a Freeman on the Land, failed to enter pleas to the charges and opted to stay in court to listen to the hearing where he was found guilty and sentenced.
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Last week he appeared at Truro Crown Court for an initial hearing in the appeal process to discuss issues including enforcement of the sentence, ahead of an appeal hearing set to take place early next year.
One of the issues raised by Mr Singh's McKenzie friend – or lay adviser – Robin de Crittenden, was legal aid. Recorder Stephen Climie said he was happy to recommend that Mr Singh receive the financial help for legal advice but it was not in his power to approve the application.
"It does seem to me that this is a case where everyone would be helped by Mr Singh having legal representation," he said.
Mr Climie also said that Mr Singh's sentence from the magistrates' court – 100 hours of unpaid work and payment of £2,200 costs – should be delayed.
He said: "If I have power then enforcement of the sentence and the costs ordered should be stayed until the outcome of this appeal."
Mr Climie ordered both parties to prepare skeleton arguments, summarising submissions likely to be made at the hearing, which is set to take place early next year.
Speaking outside the court, Mr de Crittenden said the appeal was about whether magistrates should be allowed to take away the option of trial by jury.
"He (Singh) didn't cause this," he said. "Mr Singh is reacting against an injustice that has been imposed on him. It was caused by the fact that he was denied the right to be tried by a jury in the first place."
Mr de Crittenden said they would continue to fight the case and it was likely to be referred upwards to higher courts – possibly even the Supreme Court.
"We will not let go until it has got there," he said. "Then the arguments will really begin."