Man jailed for stealing £ 10,000 Covid grant released after six weeks


A man jailed for stealing an emergency business grant of £ 10,000 has been released after spending just six weeks behind bars.

Izzldenein Yousif tricked Liverpool City Council into wrongly claiming he was entitled to support for his car wash business in Fairfield.

He did not mention that Izzy Bizzy Hand Car Wash on Prescot Road went out of business three years earlier and left the unit in 2019.

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When the board called the 65-year-old to confront him about the fraud, Yousif lied saying he had already spent the money and hung up, before later using the money to buy a taxi. .

Judge Anil Murray said Yousif’s claims were “having an impact on society” and a “deterrent sentence must follow” when he jailed him for six months in July.

But the fraudster appealed the conviction and this week his lawyer Callum Ross convinced the top judges on the Court of Appeal to release him.

Liverpool Crown Court had previously heard how the government had given the Liverpool area just under £ 108million to provide grants to small businesses “to help them support them during the economic downturn”.

To be eligible for grants, businesses must have been in operation by March 11, 2020 and have received small business tariff relief.

Yousif emailed council on July 30, 2020 to let them know that he had not received a grant for his car wash and that he was entitled to one.

This was not true as he had left the premises at the end of 2018 and in February 2019 there was a new tenant.

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On August 6, a board member emailed Yousif to tell him that if he wanted a grant, he would have to apply formally.

Yousif submitted a signed form the next day and received £ 10,000, which was deposited into his account on August 12.

On August 25, the board’s fraud and compliance team received a report from a member of the public about Yousif’s fraud.

The owner of the now-at-unity business also said he received letters addressed to Yousif.

A council officer called Yousif in early October, when the fraudster said he had spent the money and abruptly ended the call.

Investigations led police to the abandoned Newsham Park hospital, where Yousif lived, on January 28 this year.

He tried to escape through a fence but was arrested at the scene.

When questioned, he told police he felt he was “entitled” to the subsidy because of the commercial tariffs he had paid in the past.

Yousif, from Orphan Drive, Newsham Park, who admitted to the fraud, has since refunded all the money.

He had previously been convicted of criminal prejudice and threatening behavior in February 2008.

Speaking at the hearing in July, Mr. Ross, defending, said his client no longer supported the comments made in a pre-sentence report, as he attempted to “exonerate himself and Your Honor might think that ‘ blame the council and the police. ”

Mr Ross urged the judge to spare Yousif prison, suggesting that there was a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation” and that Yousif was assessed as low risk of reoffending, had “luckily” returned the money and had ” remorse”.

He said Yousif was born in Sudan but “fled” the African country in 2000 as a “political refugee” and was now a British citizen.

The lawyer said Yousif had recently worked as a taxi driver but his taxi has since been seized by police.

Mr Ross said Yousif had siblings with children in Sudan, to whom he sends £ 300 a month, and that they were to some extent his “dependents”.

He said Yousif, who had started a new job as a warehouse worker for The Hut Group in Warrington, was “upset” that his family would be financially affected if he was jailed.

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Judge Murray told Yousif: “You knew, like all of us, that businesses in this country needed help during the Covid crisis and that there was a huge demand for such money.”

The judge added: “You have prevented this money from being available for some other legitimate public need.”

Judge Murray did not accept that Yousif felt remorse over what he said in the PSR.

He said: “The fact that you took money intended to help businesses during the Covid 19 pandemic means that this is a case where the proper sanction can only be obtained through immediate detention. . ”

Yousif has appealed her conviction, which means she has been reviewed by Lord Justice Males, Ms Justice Cheema-Grubb and Mr Justice Murray in London.

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Mr Ross argued that this was not a case where a deterrent sentence was needed and that his client’s strong mitigation meant his jail term should have been suspended.

He told the appeals court that Yousif had no relevant previous convictions, had been employed for most of his life, and noted that the pre-sentence report also spoke positively of how he was willing to work with him. the probation service.

The top three judges again rejected any claim that Yousif had remorse.

But they accepted Mr Ross’ arguments and said that given all the mitigation they heard, Yousif should not have been jailed.

They overturned the six-month prison term and sentenced Yousif to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months.

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