Newmarket: Former jockey forged signatures to dishonestly claim housing benefit

Stephen Cairns worked as stable lad in Newmarket, home to the famous race course

Stephen Cairns worked as stable lad in Newmarket, home to the famous race course

A FORMER jockey who dishonestly claimed benefits of more than £30,000 has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Stephen Cairns, 44, claimed benefits while he was working in the horse racing industry earning up to £24,000 a year, lied about paying rent for a property which he owned and forged a tenancy agreement, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Cairns, of Munnings Close, Newmarket, admitted four offences of making a false statement, three offences of failing to notify a change in his circumstances, producing a false document, theft from a vehicle and three offences of fraud by false representation.

He was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 150 hours unpaid work in the community and to pay £480 costs.

Michael Edmonds, prosecuting, told the court that over a period of four years Cairns had received housing tax benefit, council tax benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance he wasn’t entitled to and had been overpaid £33,600.

He said Cairns had obtained council tax benefit and housing benefit for a house he claimed he was renting from a man called Steve Cooper when in fact he owned the house and Steve Cooper was an alias used by him.

Cairns had been evicted from the house after it was repossessed by the bank and had been given a job as a stable lad in Newmarket.

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His employer allowed him to live in a house he owned and had deducted rent from Cairns’ wages. Cairns was sacked from his job after it was discovered he had forged his employer’s signature on a fake tenancy agreement to claim housing benefit.

Mr Edmonds said Cairns had borrowed a van from a friend and had stolen four cheques from a cheque book that had been left in the vehicle.

Cairns had used one of the cheques to obtain £1,250 but a second cheque for £1,500 wasn’t paid. Cairns had presented a third cheque payable to himself for £2,600 to the Money Shop and although the cheque wasn’t cashed in its entirety he was given an advance of £400 which had not been recovered.

Cairns, who represented himself in court, said he was ashamed of what he had done. He said his life had been in a downward spiral since he was jailed in 2002 for being involved in a drugs conspiracy.

He said that since his release from prison he had been pursued by members of the drugs gang who had threatened to kill him if he didn’t pay £30,000.