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MP Jared O’Mara was sentenced to four years in prison for filing false expense claims.

Jared O'Mara
Source: The Independent

After abusing his position as a Labour MP to fraudulently claim expenses to support his cocaine and alcohol habits, Jared O’Mara was given a four-year jail term.

O’Mara was convicted of six charges of fraud after attempting to claim roughly £52,000 of taxpayer money for work that was never done and employment that did not exist. His own attorney called him a “inadequate guy” who could not handle the pressures of public life.

In June and August of 2019, the 41-year-old who served as the representative for Sheffield Hallam from 2017 to 2019 stood trial for submitting “dishonest” invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

Judge Tom Bayliss KC, who handed down O’Mara’s sentence on Thursday at Leeds crown court, said that the defendant’s autism did not mitigate his guilt.

You were acting quite sensibly, though dishonestly, and you were exploiting your autism diagnosis to defraud Ipsa of money that you planned to use to support your drug and alcohol-fueled lifestyle. The action was calculated, dishonest, and cynical.

O’Mara “abused (his) position as a member of parliament to conduct these repeated frauds,” Bayliss continued.

The jury was informed that O’Mara filed four claims totaling £19,400 from a “fictitious” organisation named “Confident About Autism South Yorkshire,” which they believed to be a reference to O’Mara’s friend John Woodliff.

Jared O’Mara also lied on Woodliff’s job contract, saying he was a “constituency support officer” when he wasn’t.

Woodliff’s projected pay of £28,000 and expenditure claims linked to Gareth Arnold, who became O’Mara’s chief of staff in June 2019, were included in the prosecution’s estimate of the fraud’s overall worth of around £52,000.

Arnold was convicted by a jury on three counts of fraud and received a 15-month sentence with two years’ suspension. The jury decided that Woodliff was not guilty and released him.

Prosecutor James Bourne-Arton said that other members of parliament were affected by the scam because it eroded “public trust and confidence in them.”

Jared O’Mara decided against testifying at his trial. O’Mara’s attorney, Mark Kelly KC, stated during the sentencing hearing that his client wished to apologise to voters “for his inability to resign in October 2017” once news of inflammatory online statements he had made before becoming an MP broke.

Whether or whether this is actually the case, there were times when he believed the media was exerting undue pressure on him because of the circumstances.

Ex Labour MP Jared O'Mara found guilty of £24,000 expenses fraud | The Independent

Source: The Independent

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Kelly testified that O’Mara was “an incompetent individual to cope with the rigours and strains of public life” who “resorted to consuming drugs, drinking, and separating himself from others who were around him.”

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