A DAD who dodged paying a penny of child support while £1.3million passed through his bank account has failed to convince top judges he should be freed from prison – to care for his kids.
Stephen David England, 32, failed to pay £30,000 of maintenance for his three impoverished children, while buying Rolex watches, driving a Bentley and having his house extended “so his snooker table could be better accommodated”.
England told the Child Support Agency he was earning between nothing and £18-a-week, despite enjoying the lifestyle of an affluent businessman, while his children, aged eight, ten and 11, endured deprived circumstances.
The cheat, of Barnstaple Road, Southend, who enjoyed lavish golfing holidays, was jailed for 12 months by Judge Ian Graham at Basildon Crown Court in January, after he was found guilty of two counts of fraud.
Now three senior judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court have thrown out a bid by England to have his sentence suspended, rejecting “ironic” claims he should be freed as he is now the main carer of his children.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC said England separated from the mother of his children in 2005 and she was deemed the children’s “parent of care”.
There was an argument over the maintenance England should pay, but when the CSA was called in to settle the row, England’s liability was assessed as “nil”.
That was based on England’s claims, made in December, 2010, that his income was just £18.46 a week.
Judge Bourne-Arton said.
“That was far from the truth. The reality was, he was running a pub and also had a motor trade business,”
A later probe showed England had spent £27,000 over the preceding six months, with £37,000 splashed out in personal expenditure from his account during the previous financial year.
Sentencing, Judge Graham had told England: “Your children were living in deprived circumstances.
Theywere missing out on many things because of your harsh attitude towards their mother and your refusal to pay what you should have been paying in maintenance to your own young children.
“Instead, what you were doing was living the life of an affluent businessman. You were buying Rolex watches; you had £1.3million moving through your bank account in the period of some three years.”
On appeal, his barrister, Jacqueline Carey, said England’s sentence should be suspended in light of the caring role he has for his children.
Lord Justice Treacy said the court saw the “irony” in England previously withholding child maintenance payments and now putting forward his children’s needs as a basis for his release.
Judge Bourne-Arton concluded: “We do not consider the sentence was in any way excessive and there are no grounds for a suspended sentence. The appeal is dismissed.”