Thu, 02 Aug 2018
Harpreet Sandhu, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, led Simon Hunka, also of No5, for the prosecution in a fraud trial that saw 12 people convicted of claiming more than £720,000 in maternity payments for babies who did not exist.
The No5 barristers were instructed by the CPS’ Serious Fraud Division.
The gang made at least 165 fake maternity applications between May 2011 and August 2015, pocketing £450,000 – they had claimed £720,000 but DWP officials became suspicious.
Ten people convicted of taking part in the plot are starting jail sentences totalling 47 years. The defendants were sentenced in batches of four over three days at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Gang leader, 44-year-old father of two Clemence Marijeni, of Weston Road, Bilston, who created fake documents in the scam, used some of the money to build himself a mansion in his native Zimbabwe.
Marijeni had been previously jailed for his part in a sham marriage con that charged £3,500 to set up European and non-Europeans with forged passports, wage slips and bills so they could marry.
Hundreds of bogus documents involving both the maternity swindle and the sham marriage racket were found on a computer at Marijeni’s home. He was given a 10-year jail term for the previous marriage con following a trial in October 2016, and a seven-year sentence for the maternity fraud.
Mr Harpreet Sandhu said, at sentence, “He was more than just a facilitator of criminal activity – he was directly engaged with it.”
Tiwone Dokowe, aged 36, and Walusunga Ngwira, 39, were also sentenced for the fraud. They are the sisters of Henry Baza, who was interviewed by investigators but fled the country before he could be arrested and is now believed to be in Malawi.
Each of the women allegedly made at least £80,000 from the latest racket, Mr Harpreet Sandhu told the court, but they will contest the figure in Proceeds of Crime cases due to be heard later this year.
The defendants also included:
• Marijeni’s wife, Poula Chikuhwa, 37, of Weston Drive, Bilston, sentenced to three years.
• Liberty Masunda, 45, a former Blackpool and Zimbabwean national team footballer from Mapleton Road, Hall Green - now a clinical engineer in Somerset - jailed for three years.
• Tinashe Sagomba, 37, of Dereham Road, Thetford, sentenced to five years.
• Toad Tagarira, 50, of Chapel Street, Bilston, jailed for four years.
• Kudakwashe Mhembere, 37, of Chapel Street, Bilston, sentenced to two-and-a-half years.
• Faith Mavis Tagarira, 21, of Chapel Street, Bilston, sentenced to 22 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work and pay £3,000 in costs.
• Tiwone Dowoke, 36, of Mansion Crescent, Smethwick given a six-year sentence.
• Walasungu Ngwira, 39, of Milton Road, Bilston, jailed for six years.
• Casper Mawoko, 36, of Fullerton Close, Pendeford, sentenced to four years.
• Pay roll manager Tapiwa Madziwa, 37, of Rightwell East, Peterborough, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to defraud and a further six months for absconding at the start of the trial.
• Patience Kanjira, 19, Mansion Crescent, Smethwick, was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,000 in costs.
All pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the Department of Work and Pensions but were convicted after a 14-week trial.
For more information on this case visit: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/crime/2018/07/18/bilston-forger-built-mansion-in-zimbabwe-while-raking-in-thousands-from-fake-marriages-and-benefits-scam/
Harpreet Singh Sandhu is a member of the following groups at No5 Barristers’ Chambers; Crime, Criminal Fraud and Proceeds of Crime, Misconduct and Compliance and Regulatory and Licensing. To view his profile visit https://www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/332-harpreet-singh-sandhu/
Simon Hunka is a member of the following groups at No5; Crime, Misconduct and Compliance and Regulatory and Licensing. To view his profile visit: https://www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/354-simon-hunka/