UPDATE: Former Sheffield Hallam MP jailed over £52,000 fraud to fund cocaine habit

Jaerd O´Mara - Twitter Labour Heartlands

UPDATE February 9, 15:18: Former Sheffield Hallam Labour MP Jared O’Mara has been jailed for four years after trying to defraud the taxpayer out of £52,000 to fund his cocaine habit.

O´Mara, who was found guilty of six counts of fiddling his expenses on Wednesday, February 8, was cleared of two further charges with his accomplice Gareth Arnold found guilty on three accounts. A further accomplice John Woodliff was cleared on one account.

According to the Metro which covered the court case, O´Mara submitted “dishonest” invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), with the profits used to fund his cocaine habit and extravagant lifestyle.

In the Leeds Crown Court, the 41-year-old was described as being in “poor mental health” at the time of the offence and was using the class A drug in “prodigious quantities.” According to evidence provided in court he “was living to or beyond his means and in dire need of cash.”

Among the false claims were four for a total of £19,400 made to Confident About Autism South Yorkshire, a fictitious organisation. Each of the claims was rejected for irregularities but at least one was resubmitted three times. Claims were also the employment of friend Woodliff, who “pretended” he worked as a constituency support officer. Two invoices were also submitted claiming Arnold was his “chief of staff.

The fraud came to an end in 2019 when Arnold went to the police saying he could no longer be part of the scam.  The jury heard his phone call to the police which said: “It’s a bit of a tricky one, but yesterday I spoke to the 999 service and the mental health crisis team about my employer, who I believe is suffering a severe psychotic episode and has delusions of a conspiracy against him.

“I also believe he has been submitting fake expense claims to the government very recently.”

Arnold, who was brought in to lead O´Hara´s office after he fired all his staff, was the only defendant called to give evidence.

The former Sheffield Hallam Labour MP and his accomplice will be sentenced at the same court tomorrow.

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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.