Asthmatic fraudster wins prison reprieve

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An ASTHMATIC fraudster has been released from prison early after senior judges heard of his health problems in jail.

Simon Andrew Marsh, aged 42, of Brinkman Street, Barnsley, was jailed for 20 weeks at Sheffield Crown Court in May for breaching the terms of a community order.

But his lawyers said his health has gravely deteriorated during the five weeks he has so far spent inside, and he is currently an in-patient at Darlington Hospital.

After hearing of his problems, three senior judges at London’s Court of Appeal halved Marsh’s sentence, meaning he will not return to prison when he is discharged from hospital.

Lord Justice Hooper told the court Marsh had worked for a loft insulation company carrying out inspections of homes and giving quotes, for which he was paid commission.

The judge said Marsh claimed commission for a number of visits which he had not carried out, or which had been done by another man.

The company found out it had been defrauded when it contacted homeowners who had not been visited by any of its staff, the court heard.

The judge said Marsh was lucky to escape prison for the fraud when he came before Sheffield Crown Court in September. Instead of a prison term, the judge ordered him to do 60 hours of unpaid work.

But he failed to turn up to a number of his unpaid work appointments in April last year, and was jailed for 20 weeks when he came back before the judge in May.

Lawyers for Marsh claimed he had missed the unpaid work only because of his ill health.

The court heard the severe asthma sufferer is being treated for pulmonary problems and would be in hospital for at least a week.

Lord Justice Hooper, sitting with Mr Justice MacDuff and Judge Peter Thornton QC, took mercy on Marsh and halved his sentence, meaning he will be released from custody.

The judge said: “None of us would have passed the sentence which the learned judge passed.

“We were reminded the appropriate sentencing guideline says that ‘dealing with breaches of community sentences, custody should be the last resort reserved for those cases of repeated or deliberate breaches’. This case does not come within that category.”