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Friday 27 May 2016, 1:29 PM

A Cheltenham couple have been jailed to a total of six years for offences including a benefit fraud that saw them claiming money for disability allowance they weren't entitled to.

Paul Lawrence, 62 and Natasha Moxey, 31, both of Brown Close in Hester's Way were sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday following a trial.

Lawrence was jailed for a total of four years and Moxey for a total of two years.

During an extensive investigation by police, HM Revenue & Customs, Cheltenham Borough Homes and the Department of Work and Pensions that started in June 2012, officers were able to prove that the couple had also been dealing in both counterfeit tobacco and counterfeit currency and
that they had benefited from over £60,000 from their crimes.

The judge has now granted a confiscation order that will see the couple pay back the value of all their available assets, which amounts to over £35,000.

DC Harry Limer, the officer in charge of the case: “Given the length of this investigation I’m really pleased with the outcome and the sentencing passed by HHJ Cullum. There has been some very good work and liaison between all the agencies during the investigation which has undoubtedly strengthened our resolve in tackling this type of offending in Gloucestershire.

"One example of Lawrence's deceit was when we arrested him. He said at the time he didn't need his walking sticks and came into custody completely unaided. A couple of days later and he returned with both sticks, which the judge said were 'nothing more than a theatrical aid'.

“It angers me so much that people who genuinely need help and assistance in their daily lives are disadvantaged by dishonest people who play the system and end up making it all so much harder for everyone else.

“There are so many people who are disadvantaged for one reason or another, ex-servicemen coming back from war having lost limbs - and then you get freeloading crooks like Lawrence and Moxey who haven’t done a day's work in their lives and who think the world owes them a living.

“I just hope the sentences they have received puts others off trying the same thing.”

Charges:

Paul Lawrence received: two years imprisonment for one count of conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency; six months each for two counts of dealing counterfeit tobacco (to run consecutively to the two years but concurrently with each other); and 18 months imprisonment each for three counts of benefit fraud (to run concurrently with each other but consecutively with the two and a half years for the other offences).

Natasha Moxey received: 15 months imprisonment for dealing in counterfeit currency;  three months each for two counts of dealing counterfeit tobacco (to run consecutively to the 18 months but concurrently with each other); and 6 months imprisonment each for three counts of benefit fraud (to run concurrently with each other but consecutively with the two and a half years for the other offences).

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