Former Labour MP Jared O’Mara tried to claim taxpayers’ cash to fund ‘significant cocaine habit’, court hears | UK News
Prosecutors say a former Labor MP attempted to collect up to £30,000 in cash from taxpayers to fund a “significant habit of cocaine use”.
Leeds Crown Court said Jared O’Mara, 41, was in “poor mental health” at the time and abused the drug in “large quantities”.
A friend, accused along with him, believes the politician is suffering from a “severe mental episode” and fears a plot against him.
It is alleged that O’Mara, who represented the Sheffield Hallam constituency from 2017 to 2019, sent “dishonest” bills to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Body (Ipsa).
Jurors were told he made four requests between June and August 2019 from a “fictitious” organization called Confident About Autism SY.
They also heard that he sent two bills from his “head of office”, Gareth Arnold, for media and PR work. Prosecutors say the work was never done.
O’Mara, who appeared in court by videolink on Monday, was also accused of submitting a false employment contract to his friend John Woodliff, saying Woodliff had worked for him as an employee constituency support officer.
O’Mara was charged with eight counts of fraud by misrepresentation.
Arnold was charged with six of the counts, while Woodliff was charged with one count.
Making his argument, prosecutor James Bourne-Arton said Arnold and Woodliff were “old friends of Jared O’Mara and sadly were persuaded to follow his dishonest statements.” “.
However, in the summer of 2019, Arnold contacted South Yorkshire Police after “to the point where he no longer wanted to participate in the scam”, the court heard.
In a phone call before the jury, Arnold said: “It was a bit of a complicated call, but yesterday I spoke to 999 service and the mental health crisis team about my employer, who who I believe is suffering from a serious mental disorder and has fantasized about a conspiracy against him.
“I also believe he recently submitted a fake expense claim to the government.”
The alleged fraudulent bills include £19,400 for support from Confident About Autism SY and £4,650 for Arnold.
Mr Bourne-Arton said SY Autism Confident was an “invention of Jared O’Mara that he hoped to pass as a legitimate claim, certainly seeking to conceal the fact that it regarding his disability if ever challenged”.
The prosecutor said there was no evidence that any training or advice was provided by Arnold, and that “legitimate employees” working for O’Mara had never heard of him.
“(Ipsa) staff noted that invoices, especially those from Confident About Autism, were in different formats, had inconsistent references and in one case were dated after being sent for payment,” said Mr. Bourne-Arton.
All invoices were declined or not processed – one of them was declined three times.
Mr Bourne-Arton said Arnold described an “unquestionably sad situation”.
He told the jury: “O’Mara was clearly unable to cope with the office he held, poor mental health and a heavy cocaine addiction that he abused in large quantities.”
Financial investigations revealed that O’Mara was “living at or beyond his means and in dire need of cash”, the court said.
The prosecutor said: “The reason for that appears to be that he sponsored a substantial cocaine habit of which both Gareth Arnold and John Woodliff were clearly aware.”
The three defendants were arrested following an investigation and Woodliff, the nightclub doorman when O’Mara was a nightclub manager, said “I know it’s dodgy,” jurors were told.
The court also learned that O’Mara emailed Ipsa in February 2020, falsely claiming that the police investigation was complete with no action taken, and saying he had right to be paid two bills in connection with services rendered by Arnold.
O’Mara, by Walker Close, Sheffield; Arnold, of School Lane, Dronfield, Derbyshire; and Woodliff, of Hesley Road, Shiregreen, Sheffield, deny all allegations.
The trial continues.