Fylde: From the courts 14-01-16

Blackpool Magistrates' Court

Blackpool Magistrates' Court

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A former RAF serviceman has made his first appearance at court accused of committing a £26,000 benefit fraud over 12 years.

Anthony Ward, 70, of Clifton Gardens, Lytham St Annes, faces two charges of dishonestly making a false statement.

He is alleged to have illegally claimed a total of £26,376 in pension credits, housing and council tax benefits between 2005 and last year by failing to declare he was receiving an occupational pension.

Rebecca Jones, prosecuting, asked for the case to be heard at crown court.

Defence lawyer, Howard Green, said his client would not indicate pleas to the offences at that stage.

Ward was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court on February 10 by Blackpool magistrates.

• A man caused mayhem at a hospital in St Annes threatening to blow it up and put a bullet through a police officer’s head.

Serial offender, Mark Howarth, later terrorised residents in a separate incident, four days after he was released from prison, by trying to get into their homes and actually entering a pensioner’s address.

Howarth, unemployed, aged 41, formerly of Auburn Grove, Blackburn, now living at Levens Grove, Blackpool, who used to live in a tent in a millionaire couple’s garden at Lytham, pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly and breach of the peace.

He was given a 12 months conditional discharge, bound over in the sum of £100 for six months and ordered to pay £15 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.

Presiding magistrate, Elizabeth Lynch, told him: “You are walking on thin ice and if you are not careful the probation service will say enough is enough and send you back to prison.”

Pam Smith, prosecuting, said staff at Clifton Hospital, St Annes, wanted to lock-up on November 21 last year, at 11pm, but were unable to because Howarth was lying across seats in reception and refused to leave.

Howarth threatened to blow up the hospital and called the staff police informers when they phoned the police. He told an officer who came to arrest him that he would put a bullet in the PC’s head if he was arrested.

On January 10 this year about 7.30pm a member of the public called police because Howarth was trying to enter homes on Fallowfield Road, Ansdell. Howarth had managed to get into one elderly person’s home. Residents in the area were irate at his actions and he was arrested.

Patrick Nelligan, defending, said his client was a long-term alcoholic. Howarth had only been out of custody four days when he relapsed and went back on the booze.

Howarth could not recall trying to get into people’s homes. He said he had been looking for his mother’s address to ask if he could stay with her.

• A 19-year-old university student has admitted putting indecent pictures of a former girlfriend on the social networking site Snapchat.

Christien Lees-Jones of Fairfield Way, Wesham, a student a Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, admitted two offences of distributing indecent photographs of the 16-year-old girl who cannot be named for legal reasons.

He also pleaded guilty to making an indecent photograph of a child.

Blackpool magistrates sent Lees-Jones for sentence at Preston Crown Court.

The defendant was bailed until February 10.

He must not contact witnesses and must not use Snapchat.

• A prisoner was threatened with a hand gun when he refused to smuggle items into an open prison.

John O’Neill, who is married with two young children, was serving a six year term for robbery imposed in 2012, when he was asked to take a package into the Lancashire prison.

In interview O’Neill, of Tern Grove, Heysham, near Lancaster, told officers he had initially refused but was then shown a gun.

Preston Crown Court heard he was on day release from HMP Kirkham, an open prison, due to a college course when he was approached by two men who threatened him with a handgun and asked him to take the package into the jail.

It was later found to contain cannabis, steroids, SIM cards and mobile phones.

Judge Mark Brown, jailing him for 10 months, said: “The fact you have been threatened is a factor I take into account but it cannot be determinitive of the outcome otherwise those individuals who thought by making threats they could get people to do this – and 
that they would be treated lightly -–would simply encourage them.

“The message must go out that whatever the circumstances, if individuals are caught smuggling prohibited items, the court will adopt a very serious view of the case.”

The court heard O’Neill had previously been trusted to take cans of fish into the prison.

Judge Brown added: “Therefore it’s obvious that you understood the rules and regulations of what was permitted and what was not.

“You certainly knew it was not permitted to take in drugs and also mobile phones.

“I’m prepared to accept that the person with whom you were dealing and another individual made threats so that you took in the package, in which there were the drugs mobile phones and SIM cards.

“I’m also prepared to accept you were threatened with a gun but the fact remains you were a serving prisoner, you were being trusted by being allowed day release and you abused that trust by trying to smuggle the various items set out.”