Watkinson/Tag Saints and Scroungers


Watkinson/Tag

Series looking at benefit fraud. A man claims he's reached rock bottom, but he's systematically cheated the taxpayer out of more than 118,000 pounds.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Watkinson/Tag. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Welcome to Saints and Scroungers,

0:00:020:00:03

the show that exposes benefit thieves, cheats and liars,

0:00:030:00:07

but it does also unearth the people that genuinely need help.

0:00:070:00:10

This is the front-line in the battle against benefit fraud.

0:00:100:00:14

Saints and Scroungers exposes the benefit thieves

0:00:370:00:39

who ruthlessly steal millions of pounds every year

0:00:390:00:42

from the British taxpayer,

0:00:420:00:44

and the crack teams of fraud investigators determined to put an end to their devious scams.

0:00:440:00:49

We also turn the spotlight on the people who are too proud

0:00:490:00:52

or simply don't know how to claim and those who help others get what they're due. These people,

0:00:520:00:58

we call the Saints.

0:00:580:01:00

And coming up on today's programme...

0:01:000:01:02

Living off the State and lauding it up in luxury,

0:01:020:01:05

a scrounger of the highest order comes under scrutiny.

0:01:050:01:09

Here we had what was clearly a greed, motivated application for benefit.

0:01:090:01:14

And the scheme designed to help the young and unemployed reach their full potential.

0:01:140:01:19

It's crazy to see where I've come from, to actually be here.

0:01:190:01:23

But first, the scrounger who has been living like a king, courtesy of Government handouts.

0:01:260:01:31

The jet-set lifestyle, eh.

0:01:340:01:37

Sailing off on a whim to one of your fancy holiday apartments abroad.

0:01:370:01:40

But let me tell you something.

0:01:400:01:42

These little beauties don't come cheap,

0:01:420:01:44

they're the ultimate in luxury living with a price tag to match.

0:01:440:01:48

So the chances are, if you can afford one of these little beauties,

0:01:480:01:52

you probably wouldn't need to be filling in one of these.

0:01:520:01:55

69-year-old John Watkinson would have us believe

0:01:570:02:01

he's reached rock bottom.

0:02:010:02:02

He used to run his own business

0:02:020:02:04

before it went under in the late '90s.

0:02:040:02:07

But thanks to the benefit system,

0:02:080:02:11

John managed to keep his AND his wife's head above water.

0:02:110:02:15

Unfortunately for John, things are about to get a whole lot worse,

0:02:150:02:20

because a crack team of Wirral fraud investigators suspected he'd been up to no good.

0:02:200:02:25

They believed he'd systematically

0:02:250:02:27

cheated the taxpayer out of over £118,000

0:02:270:02:31

and was living a secret millionaire lifestyle.

0:02:310:02:35

I've travelled to the north-west of England to find out more about this dodgy sounding claimant.

0:02:390:02:46

I'm on the Wirral, a peninsula just across the Mersey from Liverpool.

0:02:460:02:52

It's home to some of the country's richest and poorest households.

0:02:520:02:56

I'm here to meet the man in charge of fraud for Wirral Council,

0:02:560:02:59

Malcolm Flanagan.

0:02:590:03:02

When I drove through the Wirral today,

0:03:050:03:07

what really struck me is how there was some very deprived areas,

0:03:070:03:12

right, slap-bang next door to some very affluent ones.

0:03:120:03:16

-Is that a fair reflection of the Wirral?

-Absolutely.

0:03:160:03:18

We've got many areas that are old, terraced houses, old council estates,

0:03:180:03:25

very close to some of the nicest areas in the north-west of England.

0:03:250:03:28

Presumably you've got a lot of new money, footballers... You smirked there,

0:03:280:03:32

-there's some wealthy footballers?

-One or two wealthy footballers there

0:03:320:03:36

-and some wealthy ex-managers as well.

-Yeah!

0:03:360:03:38

Give me an idea about your department.

0:03:380:03:41

I'm responsible for revenues and benefits at Wirral -

0:03:410:03:43

collecting council tax and payment of housing benefit,

0:03:430:03:46

and that includes looking for people that are making basically fraudulent claims.

0:03:460:03:51

Tell me about any of the big cases.

0:03:510:03:53

Well, the one that springs to mind that's fairly recent is the case of John Watkinson.

0:03:530:03:58

We believe that he's made fraudulent claims over quite a number years

0:03:580:04:03

-and basically the fraud could be up to something like £118,000.

-A lot of money.

0:04:030:04:08

-You leave no stone unturned.

-We look at everything

0:04:080:04:11

we possibly can. First of all to make sure that we're certain it's a fraudulent claim

0:04:110:04:16

and then make sure we know exactly what we're dealing with.

0:04:160:04:19

I'm intrigued. We know John Watkinson has been

0:04:210:04:24

in receipt of housing and council tax benefits for over a decade. In fact,

0:04:240:04:29

he's been raking in a total of £944 a month.

0:04:290:04:33

But there's something out of the ordinary about

0:04:330:04:36

this claimant's circumstances, namely this.

0:04:360:04:39

A swanky house in one of the most desirable parts of the Wirral,

0:04:410:04:44

quite a disparity with the seemingly destitute man who applied for benefits.

0:04:440:04:51

The picture we had portrayed of John Watkinson and his wife on their claim form,

0:04:510:04:55

was of a couple who had no capital,

0:04:550:04:57

they had no property, they had no savings, so the picture we had was very much of a normal claimant.

0:04:570:05:03

So what exactly brought John Watkinson to the attention of the authorities?

0:05:050:05:10

Wirral Council regularly run checks on their claimants, looking for discrepancies,

0:05:130:05:19

and on a routine investigation into council tax arrears, John Watkinson's name flashed up.

0:05:190:05:23

An undercover fraud investigator tells us more.

0:05:250:05:28

We were looking at people who owed

0:05:280:05:31

more than a certain amount of council tax.

0:05:310:05:34

We cross-referenced those records against ownerships of the properties

0:05:340:05:38

and John Leslie Watkinson showed as the owner of the address.

0:05:380:05:41

So, a routine check revealed John Watkinson owns the house he's living in,

0:05:440:05:49

but on his original benefit application form, he said he was

0:05:490:05:52

paying the rent to a private landlord.

0:05:520:05:55

At this point, it's by no means a definite fraud,

0:05:570:06:00

but it deserved more review, more investigation to find out

0:06:000:06:04

whether there was a real explanation to the information we had or whether or not it looked like a fraud.

0:06:040:06:10

With serious question marks hanging over Watkinson's claim and the mysterious ex-landlord,

0:06:120:06:17

the decision was made to launch a full-scale investigation.

0:06:170:06:22

The next step was to understand who and what they were dealing with.

0:06:260:06:29

So another undercover investigator was dispatched to check out Watkinson's property.

0:06:290:06:35

Today, he's taking us back there to show us what he discovered.

0:06:370:06:41

You're certainly sort of in the nicer suburbs now where it gets a bit more...

0:06:410:06:46

a bit more affluent.

0:06:460:06:48

It's very private. You can't really see it from the road at all with the wall and the gates.

0:06:490:06:55

It's not the sort of area you'd expect to find someone living in a rented house on Income Support

0:06:550:07:00

with no money to actually pay the rent themselves.

0:07:000:07:02

Thank you.

0:07:080:07:10

Having seen the house, and realising it wasn't typical

0:07:100:07:13

of the type of property lived in by someone claiming benefits,

0:07:130:07:17

suspicions were running high.

0:07:170:07:19

If Watkinson did indeed own it, investigators had to establish when he actually acquired it.

0:07:190:07:25

What we then did was do a more detailed search with the Land Registry.

0:07:250:07:31

What we discovered from those details was in 2000, the property

0:07:310:07:34

had actually been bought by Brooklyn Holdings

0:07:340:07:37

which was all fine. Housing benefit was being paid

0:07:370:07:40

in relation to a tenant for Brooklyn Holdings.

0:07:400:07:43

The second Land Registry check that we did, showed us that in May 2006,

0:07:440:07:50

the property had been transferred from Brooklyn Holdings to John Watkinson for free.

0:07:500:07:55

Unbelievable.

0:07:580:08:01

It seems that John Watkinson was simply given a house worth,

0:08:010:08:04

at transfer, an estimated £370,000 by this mysterious landlord.

0:08:040:08:10

It has been known that landlords have sold properties

0:08:100:08:13

and have sold them to their tenants, but it's normally for a monetary value.

0:08:130:08:17

There's normally some gain - this appeared to be a gift

0:08:170:08:20

and Mr Watkinson was continuing to receive housing benefit as if he was a tenant.

0:08:200:08:27

Fraud investigators were baffled. They had no idea why a landlord

0:08:270:08:32

would simply hand over a property for free,

0:08:320:08:35

but what they did know was there was something fishy going on.

0:08:350:08:39

Knowing they could be looking at a complex fraud on a massive scale,

0:08:430:08:48

Wirral Council teamed up with

0:08:480:08:50

the Department for Work and Pensions who have also been paying benefits to John Watkinson.

0:08:500:08:54

It's very likely that if somebody is making a fraudulent claim to us,

0:08:540:08:59

they may well be making a fraudulent claim to the DWP.

0:08:590:09:03

Unbeknown to John Watkinson, the investigators were closing in.

0:09:030:09:09

They knew the key to cracking this case was to uncover

0:09:090:09:11

the truth about the landlord who had so generously gifted the house for free.

0:09:110:09:17

We had to find out exactly who was behind Brooklyn Holdings.

0:09:170:09:22

Investigators got straight on to Companies House, but there was a shock in store.

0:09:230:09:29

They had no record of Brooklyn Holdings in the UK, so the team started looking abroad.

0:09:290:09:34

'We went to Companies House in Gibraltar'

0:09:360:09:38

to get the information on the limited company

0:09:380:09:41

and that showed us that the company had a managing agent who was also based in Gibraltar.

0:09:410:09:46

But unfortunately, they weren't prepared to help us at that time,

0:09:460:09:49

so we hit a brick wall really, so it was, where do we go next?

0:09:490:09:52

Faced with a management company shielding their elusive client,

0:09:540:09:59

the team were stuck, but it didn't take long for these savvy sleuths to sniff out a new lead.

0:09:590:10:04

Checks turned up two more equally posh pads previously tenanted by John Watkinson,

0:10:090:10:15

where he'd been in receipt of benefits including this little stunner.

0:10:150:10:19

The house with the terrace up this drive

0:10:190:10:21

is the first house that Mr Watkinson claimed benefits from.

0:10:210:10:24

It's a big house. I think the estate agent details it was more than four bedrooms.

0:10:240:10:30

And on the benefit application forms for his previous two houses,

0:10:300:10:33

one guess who was quoted as the landlord.

0:10:330:10:35

On the claim forms we've received for housing and council tax benefit,

0:10:350:10:40

in relation to John Watkinson, all appeared to have a landlord as Brooklyn Holdings.

0:10:400:10:45

It was a coincidence that he'd lived in three properties in three very nice areas

0:10:450:10:48

all through the same landlord, and the same organisation owned all three properties.

0:10:480:10:54

So there was obviously a link between Brooklyn Holdings and John Watkinson,

0:10:540:10:58

it's just at this stage we couldn't prove it.

0:10:580:11:00

Coming up, a dawn raid.

0:11:060:11:09

Mr and Mrs Watkinson did seem shocked

0:11:090:11:11

as I think you would be having several police turn up at your door.

0:11:110:11:14

And investigators turn up a few surprises.

0:11:140:11:18

Next, it's farewell fraudsters and hello to the people we call our Saints.

0:11:220:11:27

Those who are in genuine need of help, but who are too proud

0:11:270:11:30

or simply don't know how to claim what's due to them

0:11:300:11:33

and their saintly helpers who point them in the right direction.

0:11:330:11:37

In the face of massive unemployment, it's hard enough getting work with skills and experience,

0:11:420:11:46

but imagine trying to find employment if you're a young person and all you want to do

0:11:460:11:51

is get your foot on the first rung of the job ladder.

0:11:510:11:53

There's even a name for it.

0:11:530:11:55

It's called NEET, Not In Employment, Education or Training.

0:11:550:11:59

What a horrible label to have hanging around your neck.

0:11:590:12:02

Getting off benefits is tough.

0:12:020:12:04

With one in six young people now unemployed,

0:12:080:12:11

and with no previous experience to offer potential employers,

0:12:110:12:15

their chances of finding work is slim to say the least.

0:12:150:12:17

But a new scheme may offer some hope.

0:12:190:12:23

In 2010, the Department for Work and Pensions funded a scheme called TAG,

0:12:240:12:30

which stands for Transforming A Generation.

0:12:300:12:33

This looks like we're about to take mug shots of you! Just have a seat around here.

0:12:330:12:38

You're not being interrogated. This ain't Prison Break!

0:12:380:12:41

The idea is to take a bunch of young people with limited prospects of getting work,

0:12:410:12:47

put them on an intensive six-month programme and get them paid work in the health and fitness industry.

0:12:470:12:52

'We're not just here to say work.'

0:12:520:12:55

We're here to motivate them, to inspire them.

0:12:550:12:58

I'm quite young myself and I've gone from jobs that I didn't particularly like

0:12:580:13:03

to a job that I absolutely love in a good role.

0:13:030:13:05

It's just to show them, look, it can be done.

0:13:050:13:08

Don't let age determine, sex determine, background, what you have or haven't done in the past.

0:13:080:13:14

Only you determine where you go.

0:13:140:13:17

It's week three of the programme. If the trainees pass the course, they'll receive a qualification

0:13:200:13:26

recognised by the industry and a work placement at a gym. So the pressure is on.

0:13:260:13:31

This is our gym.

0:13:330:13:35

'The trainees are busy learning the practical skills needed to become

0:13:350:13:40

'qualified gym instructors and they're under the firm guidance of tutor, John.'

0:13:400:13:45

You can see John, he's always interacting with the guys.

0:13:450:13:50

John is fantastic with them because he's been in the Army for 23 years,

0:13:500:13:55

he's a mixture of both discipline, boot camp, but he's fun.

0:13:550:13:58

-This is John, this is our man.

-John, how are you?

0:13:580:14:01

-These guys, do they get paid for this?

-Yes, they do.

0:14:010:14:04

They get paid the minimum wage. They work 25 hours a week.

0:14:040:14:07

That's just over part time, isn't it?

0:14:070:14:10

If they were on Jobseeker's Allowance, which is £100 every two weeks,

0:14:100:14:14

they're now getting double that.

0:14:140:14:15

Surely if someone is on a wage, they have to play by certain rules.

0:14:150:14:19

Yes, they do. The rules are any criminal activity, they're off the course.

0:14:190:14:24

They make sure they have to notify housing benefit that they're now in employment.

0:14:240:14:29

So it has to be recalculated.

0:14:290:14:30

-This is classed as employment? Full time?

-It's a job.

0:14:300:14:34

Some of these guys, it's the first time they've not been on the dole.

0:14:340:14:37

They'll stick this on their CV, this will go down as a job for six months.

0:14:370:14:40

At the end of this, do they walk away and say,

0:14:400:14:43

"I've done six months with TAGs," or is there a certificate?

0:14:430:14:47

-A certificate. It's internationally recognised.

-It's same as any level two.

0:14:470:14:52

The first qualification some of these guys have had?

0:14:520:14:55

Nathan is a 22-year-old who has had a tough start in life.

0:14:570:15:02

After years on and off the dole, he discovered TAG

0:15:030:15:06

and now he's coming to the end of his work placement

0:15:060:15:09

as a gym instructor. But he's impressed his employers enough

0:15:090:15:12

to bag himself an interview for a full-time job.

0:15:120:15:16

If I could get that opportunity to work with them permanently, that would be amazing.

0:15:190:15:23

Seriously, they're a different group of people.

0:15:230:15:26

They bring out a different side to me, a side that I like.

0:15:260:15:28

Nathan's now had his interview

0:15:290:15:31

and I've heard on the grapevine the news is good.

0:15:310:15:35

-Nathan!

-Hey, Dom! How are you?

-Congratulations are in order.

0:15:370:15:40

-Thank you very much.

-I tell you what, I haven't seen a smile that big

0:15:400:15:44

-since Christmas Day!

-Ah, mate, I've over the moon.

0:15:440:15:47

So it's good news - I got the job. Interview went well.

0:15:470:15:51

I was nervous at first, I was a bit nervous.

0:15:510:15:53

-Just chuffed to bits, really.

-Tell me about the interview itself.

0:15:530:15:56

Did the trainer that TAG gave you help with the whole process?

0:15:560:15:59

Yeah, definitely. They gave me some pinpoints.

0:15:590:16:02

They told me a few body language tips.

0:16:020:16:05

Definitely, what TAG did there, they helped me out a lot.

0:16:050:16:07

Nathan's boss Joe has asked the newest member of the team

0:16:090:16:13

to come to the office for a chinwag.

0:16:130:16:15

Welcome. Obviously...

0:16:160:16:19

you joined us on the TAG scheme.

0:16:190:16:21

Really impressed me all the way through.

0:16:210:16:25

And now it's your first day as a member of the team.

0:16:250:16:27

-How are you feeling?

-I'm feeling very excited!

0:16:270:16:30

-Let's get you on the register of exercise professionals cos you are now employed.

-Yeah, baby!

0:16:300:16:35

-Let's focus...on your training and your development.

-Yeah.

0:16:350:16:38

'Francois, the course mentor, knows this kind of success story will give the new recruits a boost.'

0:16:400:16:46

Guys...

0:16:460:16:48

just so you know, it can be done.

0:16:480:16:50

We've got a guy, his name is Nathan Mooney.

0:16:500:16:53

He's been given a full-time job at City Point, a top-end gym that wouldn't have looked at him before.

0:16:530:16:58

He's gone there with the right attitude and this is what I'm aiming for with all of you guys.

0:16:580:17:03

Back now to the sinister world of the scrounger.

0:17:100:17:13

Wirral's fraud investigation team are hoping to land a very big catch.

0:17:160:17:20

A man they suspect of stealing £118,000 worth of benefits

0:17:200:17:24

whilst living the lifestyle of a millionaire.

0:17:240:17:28

On paper, 69-year-old, John Watkinson, looked like a man

0:17:330:17:37

deserving of the tens of thousands of pounds he'd claimed in benefits over the last decade.

0:17:370:17:43

But despite telling Wirral Council he was renting his house from a private landlord, Brooklyn Holdings,

0:17:470:17:54

it turned out John owned his current house outright.

0:17:540:17:57

What we can see here is that there's an element of greed if this fraud is proved.

0:18:000:18:07

Here we have somebody that owns a property and is claiming rent and claiming council tax benefit.

0:18:070:18:13

The fraud team suspected that John Watkinson created the fake landlord, Brooklyn Holdings,

0:18:180:18:23

to hide the fact he owned all the properties where he'd been claiming

0:18:230:18:27

tens of thousands of pounds in benefits.

0:18:270:18:30

But so far, they just hadn't been able to prove it.

0:18:310:18:35

Their only hope was to get more evidence and they believed the way to do that, was to search his house.

0:18:370:18:42

So investigators put together a plan to carry out a raid.

0:18:440:18:49

In August 2007, it was agreed that a raid would go ahead

0:18:490:18:53

involving ourselves, Merseyside Police, and the Department for Work and Pensions.

0:18:530:18:59

John Watkinson still had no idea he was under investigation, but he was about to get a very rude awakening.

0:19:040:19:11

16 officers arrived at John Watkinson's house at 7am and buzzed the intercom to be let in.

0:19:150:19:21

Mr Watkinson did seem quite shocked as I think you would be,

0:19:210:19:26

having several police and other officers turn up at your door.

0:19:260:19:30

And it didn't take long for investigators to strike gold.

0:19:300:19:33

The documentation that we found led us to believe that

0:19:330:19:37

John Leslie Watkinson was the owner of Brooklyn Holdings.

0:19:370:19:40

If that was the case, then the properties that were owned

0:19:400:19:44

by Brooklyn Holdings were owned by John Watkinson.

0:19:440:19:48

We'd been paying housing benefit and council tax benefit on those properties since 1995.

0:19:480:19:54

So it seems the search was more than justified.

0:19:550:20:00

If we just looked on face value

0:20:000:20:01

at the information we'd got on the application forms and the initial Land Registry,

0:20:010:20:05

and we'd asked Mr Watkinson to come in for an interview,

0:20:050:20:07

it could have led him to destroy the evidence.

0:20:070:20:09

So unless we searched, we wouldn't have found that house.

0:20:090:20:12

But proof that John Watkinson was Brooklyn Holdings wasn't the only discovery.

0:20:140:20:19

When we raided John Watkinson's house, we turned up some absolutely astounding information.

0:20:210:20:26

Far from being a housing benefit claimant with no income and no capital,

0:20:260:20:30

what we found was somebody who had an extravagant lifestyle.

0:20:300:20:33

There were properties abroad which were being rented out.

0:20:330:20:37

There were details about weekly rentals and occupancy rates during the summer periods.

0:20:370:20:42

There was bank accounts that were held outside the UK that we weren't aware of.

0:20:420:20:46

And even added to that, which was absolutely astounding

0:20:460:20:50

was that there were boats involved, yachts that were moored in Turkey that were clearly his.

0:20:500:20:55

One of them was actually worth in the region of £39,000 to £40,000.

0:20:550:20:59

This was way beyond anything that people on housing benefit

0:20:590:21:02

should ever really have to be able to claim benefit.

0:21:020:21:05

So here we had what was clearly a greed-motivated application for benefit.

0:21:050:21:12

So let's just get this straight.

0:21:140:21:16

This devious scrounger has been lording it up,

0:21:160:21:19

sailing round the Mediterranean on his yacht, while we, the taxpayers, have been paying for it.

0:21:190:21:24

It was a very complex investigation and even though our officers

0:21:270:21:32

had the documentation, it still wasn't a clincher.

0:21:320:21:36

We still had to have Mr Watkinson about why he would be doing business on behalf of Brooklyn Holdings.

0:21:360:21:42

So John and his wife are brought in for questioning under caution.

0:21:420:21:46

But did John own up, or was he telling the truth all along?

0:21:460:21:49

John Watkinson was quite difficult to interview.

0:21:520:21:55

He simply kept reiterating the fact that we were confused.

0:21:550:21:58

We didn't understand the documentation.

0:21:580:22:00

He didn't have anything to do with Brooklyn Holdings.

0:22:000:22:02

He never dealt with any form of business on their behalf.

0:22:020:22:05

Originally he said that Brooklyn Holdings had been good to him.

0:22:050:22:09

He'd been a caretaker to their property and they'd chosen to give him the property.

0:22:090:22:13

John did admit to owning the property from May 2006

0:22:130:22:17

and that he was wrong not to tell us and continue to receive payments of rent to his bank account.

0:22:170:22:24

He did offer to pay that back in full and that was the only thing that he admitted to on that day.

0:22:240:22:30

But this part-confession didn't take the wind out of the fraud investigators' sails.

0:22:310:22:37

Determined to prove this scam went a lot further back than 2006,

0:22:370:22:42

they released John and his wife on bail for six months

0:22:420:22:45

and continued to dig deeper into the ownership of Brooklyn Holdings Limited.

0:22:450:22:49

There were so many things pointing to the fact that John Watkinson really was Brooklyn Holdings.

0:22:530:22:58

We just had to go back further.

0:22:580:23:00

Finally the team got the breakthrough they desperately needed.

0:23:020:23:07

Investigators obtain a declaration of trust, a piece of legal paperwork from John's solicitor

0:23:070:23:14

proving that John Watkinson and Brooklyn Holdings are one and the same.

0:23:140:23:20

And it proved that this ruthless scrounger

0:23:240:23:28

had been stealing benefits as far back as 1995.

0:23:280:23:31

I finally realised that we'd turned the corner and that a lot

0:23:330:23:37

of the hard work that had gone on in previous months was all worthwhile.

0:23:370:23:41

Fraud investigators now had all the evidence they needed

0:23:460:23:49

to take scrounger John Watkinson to court.

0:23:490:23:53

He's accused of cheating the local council out of over £55,000 in housing benefits and council tax.

0:23:530:24:00

And accused of stealing nearly £63,000 from the Department for Work and Pensions

0:24:000:24:06

for income support and pension credits.

0:24:060:24:09

In total, John Watkinson pilfered over £118,000

0:24:090:24:13

from the pockets of the British taxpayer.

0:24:130:24:17

Faced with overwhelming evidence,

0:24:210:24:23

John Watkinson pleads guilty to all 18 charges.

0:24:230:24:27

As for Watkinson's wife, although she was arrested and charged,

0:24:270:24:31

the court ordered that the two charges against her be left on file.

0:24:310:24:35

I'm pleased to see that we've managed to take this action and bring it to

0:24:370:24:41

a conclusion to see that fraud is stopped, especially fraud on this massive scale.

0:24:410:24:48

It's July 2010 and it's judgement day for scrounger, Watkinson.

0:24:540:24:59

As he enters court for sentencing, our cameras were ready and waiting.

0:24:590:25:04

Investigators from Wirral Council and the DWP have every faith that justice will be done.

0:25:060:25:13

I've investigated this case now for nearly three years and sometimes I found it quite frustrating.

0:25:130:25:19

I've done the best I can and I've got the case here to court today

0:25:190:25:23

and now it's down to the judge to issue the correct sentence that he feels is fitting.

0:25:230:25:27

After a few hours, it's all over.

0:25:270:25:29

And the punishment, two years behind bars, to begin with immediate effect.

0:25:350:25:40

The prosecution are also seeking to seize his luxury assets

0:25:420:25:46

to compensate for the £118,000 he's stolen in benefits.

0:25:460:25:51

And he'll be forced to live with a criminal record.

0:25:550:25:58

We're very pleased with the outcome.

0:26:000:26:02

Any custodial sentence for a fraud of this nature is a welcome one.

0:26:020:26:08

This says that Wirral doesn't tolerate fraud.

0:26:100:26:13

What we say to everyone is, "We want you to claim your right amount of housing benefit.

0:26:150:26:19

"We'll work to get that to you correctly and on time,

0:26:190:26:24

"but we will not tolerate fraud and fraud of this scale is just wholly abhorrent."

0:26:240:26:29

Two years, eh? What a result.

0:26:320:26:35

It appears John Watkinson's seafaring days have finally come to an end.

0:26:350:26:39

It's probably about now that cabin fever is setting in.

0:26:390:26:43

You see, the thing is, he's no stranger to compact living,

0:26:430:26:46

but there's a big difference between doing it on a yacht and doing it in a prison cell.

0:26:460:26:50

Go on captain, open it up!

0:26:500:26:53

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:200:27:23

Email [email protected]

0:27:230:27:26

Dominic Littlewood presents a series looking at the work of fraud investigators searching out benefit thieves and meets the people they are stealing from - the genuine claimants.

Living off the state and lording it up in luxury - a scrounger of the highest order comes under scrutiny. He claims he's reached rock bottom but he's systematically cheated the taxpayer out of more than 118,000 pounds.

Plus a scheme designed to help the young and unemployed reach their full potential.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS