Judge speaks of sentencing issues as Teesside university swindler walks free (From The Northern Echo)
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Judge speaks of sentencing issues as Teesside university swindler walks free
A UNIVERSITY support worker who swindled £15,000 with false invoices and time sheets walked free from court as a judge spoke of problems with fraud sentencing guidelines.
Graham Sanderson - a hard-working man with no previous convictions - would have been jailed for only eight weeks had Judge Howard Crowson decided to lock him up.
The 25-year-old would have served, at the most, just half of the sentence before being released, but it may have been as little as just several days because of his good character.
The guidelines for fraud are being reviewed, and the judge said: "Most people will be surprised that six weeks is the guideline for a £15,000 fraud from Teesside University - but it is.
"Whatever surprise it may engender, if I was to go up to 12 weeks, I would give him full credit for his guilty plea and that would bring the sentence back down to eight weeks.
"If I impose an eight-week sentence on a man of good character, he would hardly serve a day. It would be much more sensible if I was to suspend it and make him do unpaid work."
Sanderson, of Culross Grove, Stockton, worked as an educational personal assistant at the University of Teesside, where it was his job to support disabled students Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said he submitted time sheets to the university and they were reimbursed by Durham County Council, the NHS and Student Finance England.
Mrs Jacobs told Teesside Crown Court that he forged the signatures of students to make it look as though he had spent more time than he really had working with them.
Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Sanderson had "started off by putting this in by mistake" but continued to make false claims when he realised he could easily get away with it.
Sanderson admitted five charges of fraud and was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work for the community.
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