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Former police sergeant guilty of fraud

PUBLISHED: 19:26 19 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 March 2010

THE owner of a website for UK writers and publishers fears it may have to be shut down after he was convicted of benefit fraud.

Former police sergeant Trevor Lockwood, who is now a writer, said his life had been "ruined" by two convictions of making false representations – because he had earned cash while claiming £52 a week in job seeker's allowance.

THE owner of a website for UK writers and publishers fears it may have to be shut down after he was convicted of benefit fraud.

Former police sergeant Trevor Lockwood, who is now a writer, said his life had been "ruined" by two convictions of making false representations – because he had earned cash while claiming £52 a week in job seeker's allowance.

The 58-year-old was given a conditional discharge by magistrates in Ipswich but said the damage had already been done.

Representing himself, Lockwood, a grandfather, said he felt the sentence was "the right one in the circumstances" but said his reputation had been done great damage. He currently runs the author.co.uk site, which promotes UK writers around the world, and is also a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex.

"I'm well known in a very small area, but it is an international area and 50,000 people visit my website a week. The repercussions of this have virtually destroyed me and there's nothing this court can do to me that hasn't already been done," he said.

The author, who has written several books including A Writer's Guide To The Internet, was also told to pay £100 costs. He had no previous convictions.

Last month's trial was told that Lockwood, of Gainsborough Road, Felixstowe, earned cash as a house-sitter on three occasions in 2000 while claiming job seeker's allowance. He had looked after a property in Nayland, near Sudbury, but said he saw it more as therapy than work.

Lockwood, who spent 15 years with the Metropolitan Police, said illness had caused him to be sacked from his job as a control room operator with Suffolk Constabulary in June 2000.

Following his dismissal, he "reluctantly" signed on the dole so he could qualify for a loan, available to people aged over 50, to start his own business – and boost his website. During the court hearing, his co-author on A Writer's Guide…, Karen Scott, took the stand against him to give evidence.

Lockwood denied the criminal charges, but magistrates found him guilty of the charges and warned he could face a jail sentence.

Following pre-sentence reports, chairman of the bench, John Horton, said a conditional discharge for one year was suitable punishment. "We heard your claims that you were misled by DSS staff and have taken that into account, although it was not proven," he said.

Following the hearing, Lockwood said the conviction had cost him a grant from the Arts Council and a chance to become chairman of Suffolk New Media, and added the website was in danger of folding.


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