Monday, August 29, 2016

Syrian father-of-two is jailed for seven months after fraudulently claiming £10,000 in UK benefits while living in the war-torn country

  • Bashir Souliman claimed £10,801 over eight months while living in Syria
  • Father-of-two claimed he went home to Homs but was then abducted
  • Returned to UK when he was later interviewed and arrested over benefits
  • Souliman was jailed for seven months by magistrates in Birmingham 
In the dock: Bashir Souliman, pictured, claimed £10,801 over eight months while living back in Syria and has been jailed on returning to the UK
In the dock: Bashir Souliman, pictured, claimed £10,801 over eight months while living back in Syria and has been jailed on returning to the UK
A Syrian father-of-two who claimed £10,000 in benefits despite returning to his home country has been jailed for seven months.

Bashir Souliman claimed £10,801 over eight months even though he had left Birmingham and was in the city of Homs.

Souliman claimed he had planned to stay in the war torn country for a month but was abducted on January 30 and only release after a ransom was paid in October 2014.

But when he returned to the UK he was quizzed by anti-fraud investigators who had been tipped off about his benefit claims.

Souliman pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in circumstances in his Employment Support Allowance to the value of £3,417.08 between February 14 and October 8, 2014.

He also admitted fraudulently claiming housing benefits between February 17 and October 12, 2014, to the value of £3,922.92.

And Souliman further pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming child tax credits between March 14 and October 8, 2014, to the value of £3,461.53.

The father-of-two, who lived in Birmingham at the time and is now in Durham, was jailed for 28 weeks at Birmingham Magistrates Court.

Sentencing him, chair of the bench Christine Speake told Souliman: 'This was a deliberate defrauding of the public purse for the sum of over £10,000.

'We take fraud of this kind very seriously. We see no alternative but to jail you.'

Prosecutor David Devine told the court: 'Mr Souliman says he planned to go to Syria for four weeks but was kidnapped on January 30, 2014 and held captive until October 5.

'He then flew back to the UK on October 8.

'In the meantime the National Benefit Fraud Hotline had received a tip-off with regards to Mr Souliman.

'He was investigated and interviewed and benefits fraud charges were brought against him.'

The court heard Souliman, who now lives in Durham, had been in Britain for 16 years after leaving his home in Homs when it was bombed.

Geraldine Toal, defending, said he was abducted after returning to see his wife and children were in a refugee camp in Syria.

She added: 'He returned to Syria to see his wife and children.

'His children had come over to the UK but couldn't live without their mother so returned to the country.

'There are many issues in Syria and opposing factions and threats have been made to his family.

'He had been living in the UK for 16 years and had periods of work.

 He had been sending money back to his family in Syria.

'At this moment in time he isn't claiming benefits but works in a pizza shop.'

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