Bonfire builder jailed for soccer jersey fraud as he claims allowance
A football shirt fraudster will spend the next six months behind bars after being caught claiming the allowance while flogging counterfeit kits online.
oyalist bonfire builder John Russell (53) admitted to benefits fraud at Craigavon Crown Court last Friday with Judge Patrick Lynch telling him: “I gave you a chance and I’m sure that On this occasion I would have warned you that if you appeared as an offense, you would be sent to prison.
“You took your chance and it didn’t work for you. The court needs to overturn the conditional sentences.”
The court heard that the greedy Portadown-based Russell had received both housing allowance and income assistance without notifying the relevant agencies that he was selling football shirts online under the false name of David Droonan.
The same company had previously caused trouble for Russell with infringement convictions that resulted in a conditional sentence in 2015.
His latest crimes earned him £ 8,534 in income support and £ 7,745 in housing allowance, for a total of £ 16,279.
Craigavon Court learned how, despite being unemployed, Russell, with an address in Drumcarn Gardens, was able to buy a trailer and afford trips to Florida. His defense attorney said: “After this (initial suspended sentence) he started working, but in 2016 his daughter was taken from his wife and placed in his custody.
“Mr Russell started claiming benefits because he could no longer work, then went back to selling football shirts online, it was more like £ 50 here and £ 100 there.”
Scheming Russell is well known in Portadown and every twelfth takes a leading role in the Corcrain Estate bonfire.
When the self-proclaimed community worker was convicted of defrauding £ 40,000 in benefits in 2015, he was forced to pay back half that figure to avoid jail.
He claimed income assistance, jobseeker’s allowance and housing allowance on the grounds that he was a single parent with no savings or source of income.
But a trawl of his bank accounts found thousands of pounds and proof that he is a regular trader on eBay.