A former Labour MP who submitted fake expense claims to fund his cocaine habit has been jailed.
Jared O’Mara, who represented Sheffield Hallam constituency from 2017 to 2019, was yesterday found guilty of six counts of fraud and cleared of two counts by a jury.
He was accused of trying to claim as much as £30,000 of taxpayers’ money for ‘alcohol, cigarettes and, above all, cocaine’.
Six years ago, the politician celebrated defeating former Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg.
But his reputation has now been left in tatters as he faces four years behind bars.
The 41-year-old went on trial for submitting fraudulent invoices between June and August 2019.
Leeds Crown Court heard O’Mara claimed £19,400 from a ‘fictitious’ organisation called Confident About Autism South Yorkshire.
Jared O’Mara’s chief of staff calls cops to reveal boss submitted fake expenses
A jury found he also submitted a false contract of employment for his friend John Woodliff, pretending he worked as a constituency support officer.
The former nightclub manager was cleared of two fraud charges over invoices from another friend, Gareth Arnold, for media work that prosecutors claimed was never carried out.
But he was convicted of an offence of fraud after emailing Ipsa in February 2020, falsely claiming the police investigation into him had been completed and he was entitled to be paid the two invoices relating to Arnold, which totalled £4,650.
Prosecutors said the total value of the fraud was about £52,000, including Mr Woodliff’s proposed salary of £28,000.
Arnold, who became O’Mara’s chief of staff in 2019, reported the MP’s actions to the police.
When asked what proof he had that O’Mara was submitting false claims of tens of thousands of pounds, Arnold said: ‘I’m the person that inputs his claims for him.’
Arnold himself was sentenced to 15 months suspended for two years after a jury found him guilty of three fraud charges, but cleared him of a further three.
Through his barrister, O’Mara apologised to his former constituents for failing to resign in October 2017, the month he was suspended by the party.
But Judge Tom Bayliss KC said the fraud was ‘cynical, deliberate and dishonest’.
He told O’Mara: ‘You are a highly intelligent man. You were, I am quite sure, able to exercise appropriate judgment, to make rational choices, and to understand the nature and consequences of your actions.
You may have occasionally behaved bizarrely or demonstrated disordered thought.
‘But whether that was caused by your disorder or by your consumption of drugs (or both), is neither here nor there so far as this fraud is concerned.
‘You knew perfectly what you were doing with this fraud, you were behaving perfectly rationally, if dishonestly, and you were using your autism diagnosis to extract money from Ipsa to fund your cocaine and alcohol driven lifestyle.’