Tayside and Central Scotland

Man who registered 26 non-existent babies jailed

Rory McWhirter Image copyright Alan Richardson
Image caption Rory McWhirter was told by a sheriff there was "no alternative to custody"

A businessman who registered the births of 26 non-existent babies as part of a benefit fraud scheme has been jailed for 28 months.

Rory McWhirter, of Edinburgh, collected identity details from people he had deceived into applying for fake jobs at a Glasgow hotel.

He used the details to obtain their marriage certificates before using them to register the fake births.

McWhirter then used the birth certificates to claim benefits.

Returned to scene

McWhirter, who travelled around Scotland to register the births, previously admitted a charge of fraud committed between 1 June 2014 and 22 October 2015.

He claimed tax credits amounting to £14,222, child benefits of £19,658 and a Sure Start maternity grant of £500.

Dundee Sheriff Court was told that McWhirter was caught after returning to the scene of one of his early false birth registrations at Aberdeen registry office where he was recognised by staff.

Depute fiscal Vicki Bell told the court that McWhirter presented letters to registrars at various offices throughout Scotland purporting to be from doctors confirming the births of children at home.

During the meetings he acted as if he was the male named on the marriage certificate while registering the birth, the court was told.

'Failed businesses'

McWhirter's solicitor John McLeod said his client earned about £80,000 per year and would be able to repay the money at £2,000 to £2,500 a month if he was not jailed.

Mr McLeod said: "The money was going straight into his property business venture.

"He has had two failed businesses - first a bar that was swiftly run into the ground and the property company.

"He felt he couldn't go back to his family - who are successful - for a second bail-out so came up with this scheme.

"This was well planned in the sense that a lot of effort was put in.

"But it is hardly Machiavellian and it came unstuck because he was foolish enough to go in to the same registrar's office several times."

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael said: "This was a fairly sophisticated fraudulent scheme.

"It was an attack on the public purse, on the integrity of the system of births, deaths and marriages and also an attack on the system of working tax credits, child benefit and maternity grants.

"Putting that all together there is no alternative to custody."