Court says former lawmaker Jared O’Mara has alleged spending to finance his cocaine habit

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A court has claimed that a former lawmaker accused of presenting fraudulent spending to parliament was “heavily addicted to cocaine” and lived beyond his means.

Jared O’Mara is accused of committing eight “insolent” scams while Sheffield Hallam was a Labor MP. It is also allegedly trying to charge taxpayers around £30,000 by using fake invoices for non-existent entities.

On the first day of his trial at Leeds royal court, a jury heard that O’Mara had submitted false bills to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which was set up to examine MPs’ allegations after the spending scandal.

Prosecutor James Bourne-Arton said part of the scam involved making a fictional charity called “Confident About Autism South Yorkshire” to solicit payments.

O’Mara, who was absent from court and attended via video link from his Sheffield home, denies all charges.

Bourne-Arton said O’Mara, who lost his seat in the 2019 general election two years later, “is beyond his means and in serious need of cash” due to “financing a significant cocaine habit”.

“This was an invention by Jared O’Mara that he hoped to get overlooked as a legitimate claim, and he was undoubtedly trying to hide behind the fact that it was related to his disability if challenged,” he told the jury.

The court heard how it plans to share the proceeds of the fraud with “old friends” Gareth Arnold and John Woodliff, both of whom he employed in his office in 2019.

Arnold, of Dronfield, Derbyshire, was O’Mara’s chief of staff during the 2019 general election and helped cover the costs, while Woodliff, of Sheffield, was working a £28,800 salary as a constituency support officer, a role the prosecution has said. did not perform.

Arnold is charged with six charges-related scams and Woodliff with one scam for failing to fulfill his support worker role. Both deny the charges against them.

Bourne-Arton said the court heard that invoices from Confident About Autism were “in different formats, had inconsistent references, and were given a date after they were presented for payment in one case.”

The bills were rejected shortly after they were sent by IPSA, which was concerned about the validity of the claims and asked for more proof.

Around the same time, Bourne-Arton said that Arnold went to South Yorkshire police to report the scam that he was “no longer willing to participate in”.

The jury phoned the police from Arnold on July 7, 2019. Arnold said: “This is a bit of a challenge, but I spoke to the 999 service and mental health crisis team yesterday about my employer. He is going through a severe psychotic episode and has delusions that there is a conspiracy against him.

“I also believe that he has recently submitted false spending allegations to the government.”

During police interviews, Arnold “described an admittedly distressing situation in which O’Mara was clearly unable to cope with the office he held, was in poor mental health, and was heavily addicted to cocaine, which he abused in extraordinary amounts,” Bourne-Arton told the court.

The three men were later arrested, and the court heard how Woodliff said of his arrest, “I knew it was dangerous.”

The trial continues.

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