Glasgow & West Scotland

Cash seized from Anthony Kearney and Donna McCafferty

Anthony Kearney and Donna McCafferty
Image caption Kearney and McCafferty were traced in Spain in 2008

A Scottish couple who went on the run in Spain to escape fraud charges are to have almost £1m seized under proceeds of crime legislation.

Anthony Kearney, 46, and 44-year-old Donna McCafferty admitted claiming housing benefit when they had more than £330,000 in offshore accounts.

Kearney was jailed for two years in 2008 and McCafferty was given 250 hours community service.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court, confiscation orders totalling £943,366 were granted.

Kearney and McCafferty were tracked down in the Costa Blanca town of Benissa in November 2008 after being featured in a Crimestoppers appeal to catch on-the-run British suspects.

Fraud probe

Kearney was later jailed for two years and McCafferty was given 250 hours community service.

The couple, who have a son together, admitted committing benefit fraud by claiming housing benefit when they had more than £330,000 in offshore accounts.

Kearney also claimed for almost £23,000 in income support and pocketed more than £10,000 from credit card frauds.

They went on the run after a money laundering investigation was launched against them in May 2004.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court, a confiscation order for £930,362 was made against Kearney, and a confiscation order for £13,003 was made against McCafferty.

Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson QC, said: "Anthony Kearney and Donna McCafferty lied about their circumstances to rob the public purse of thousands of pounds in benefit fraud before fleeing to Spain to try and escape justice.

"They were arrested on an international warrant within 24 hours of a Crimestoppers' appeal - which featured them on a "most-wanted" list - and extradited back to Scotland.

"This case should also be a warning to those who think that targeting public funds through criminal enterprise is an easy way to make money, and a reminder that the proceeds of crime legislation covers a wide range of offences where there has been financial benefit."

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said benefit thieves were costing the taxpayer almost £1bn per year.

"This money should be going to the people who need it most and not lining the pockets of criminals sunning themselves overseas," he said.

"In addition to the sentence imposed by the court, the department always seeks to recover the money falsely obtained, to ensure that cheats do not benefit from their criminal activities."

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