The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the case of Tracey Newell to the Court of Appeal.
On 29 November 2012, at Inner London Crown, Ms Newell pleaded guilty to seven counts of benefit fraud. The counts related to claims for Housing and Council Tax Benefit covering the period from 1 August 2005 to 5 December 2012. The prosecution case was that Ms Newell failed to declare seven bank accounts of which she was either sole account holder or joint account holder with her father.
In January 2013, Ms Newell was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and 150 hours unpaid work. Confiscation proceedings were instigated.
Later that year a Confiscation Order was made for £17,637.93 and Ms Newell was ordered to pay within 28 days or serve 12 months’ imprisonment in default.
Ms Newell appealed against the Confiscation Order but in April 2014, the Full Court dismissed the appeal.
In separate proceedings at the First-Tier Tribunal, Ms Newell appealed against the local authority’s calculation of overpaid benefits upon which the Crown Court’s confiscation order was based.
The Judge in those proceedings ordered a recalculation of the amount. In June 2014, Southwark Council wrote to Ms Newell to tell her that the calculation of the overpayment of benefits in her case had been reduced to a total of £3,225.28.
However, when, at the request of Southwark Council, the enforcement of the Confiscation Order for £17,637.93 was considered at Inner London Crown Court in December 2014, the Judge concluded that, in spite of the decision of the First-Tier Tribunal, the original order remained valid and that he did not have jurisdiction to change it.
Ms Newell applied to the CCRC for a review of her case in January 2016.
Having reviewed the case in detail, the CCRC has decided to refer that case for appeal on the basis of fresh evidence that raises a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will now amend the Confiscation Order.
Ms Newell was not represented throughout her application to the Commission.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 07947 355231 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
1. The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
2. There are currently 13 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
3. The Commission usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.
4. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
6. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate