Man (54) claimed £9,000 in false travel expenses

South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen

A LOCAL man has been convicted of frauding the Western Trust by claiming over £9,000 in false travel expenses. Vincent Barlow (53), of Blunnick Road, Florencecourt appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with fraud by false representation and resisting police.
Barlow was accused that between January 21st 2013 and April 16th 2015, he dishonestly claimed expenses from the Western Trust for taxi journeys from his home in Florencecourt to South West Acute Hospital.
During this time, the defendant was availing of the Hospital Travel Cost Scheme, which reimburses patients who use taxis to attend health services. Barlow was attending SWAH on a weekly basis, amounting to around 250 journeys over the two years by presenting receipts from a taxi firm in Lisburn called Catch-a-Cab, and from a driver called Barry Richardson.
During the contest the court heard that a complaint had been made by the Western Trust that Barlow had been claiming false travel expenses to the value of £9,083.
On December 2nd, 2015 around 3.15pm both officers were on patrol in Florencecourt, when they met a dark coloured Mercedes, which they believed to be linked to Vincent Barlow. Barlow was arrested and advised that he would be given street bail to go to the Police station the next day. Barlow then became agitated and rang 999, and became abusive to the operator before the call was terminated.
The investigating Police officer explained that Barlow then asked to be taken to the police station but forcibly resisted.
The second officer told the court that they were investigating an allegation that the defendant was claiming for taxis, but he was able to drive himself to the hospital.
Raymond McCormick, owner of Catch-a-Cab taxi firm in Lisburn, gave evidence explaining that Barry Richardson had left the firm around January 2014 adding he had checked his log sheets and he had no record of a driver travelling to Enniskillen saying ‘it wouldn’t be a job that they would get every day.’
Defending barrister Ciaran Roddy questioned Mr McCormick if his drivers were self employed, and asked if Mr Richardson could have carried out a fare outside of his role, to which Mr McCormick replied ‘he might have done.’ Mr Roddy debated that the prosecution had failed to prove that the taxi journeys were fraudulent and that there was no evidence of dishonesty.
District Judge Nigel Broderick questioned why Mr Richardson would drive 140 miles round trip from Lisburn to Florencecourt to Enniskillen and only charge from Florencecourt to Enniskillen.
Mr Roddy explained Mr Richardson was a personal friend of the defendant, and that there was enough mechanism for the taxi driver to operate outside the taxi firm as a private taxi. He also added that court does not know any details about Mr Richardson, or where he lived.
Judge Broderick pointed out that this is a circumstantial case, adding that the driver of the taxi had left the taxi firm in January 2014, and that it was a concern as the receipts were still being presented, and that McCormick gave evidence of having no knowledge of the fare. He added that while the case is circumstantial, he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt and convicted the defendant both offences of resisting police and also false representation. He adjourned the case until February 14th for a presentence report to be submitted

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