Two Depressing Crime Stories

First of all, the Echo reports that two ex-councillors next door in Castle Point have been jailed for 28 days each for benefit fraud:

…..An unimpressed District Judge David Cooper said the Meagers were “swindling their own council”.

He said: “It’s imposssible to accept that this was some temporary oversight.

“You both have shown a cynical and really breathtaking dishonesty and greed over many years. This is aggravated by the fact you were both councillors and I think the public will be affronted if an immediate custodial sentence was not passed.”

All the money has been repaid to the council, but the couple must now pay court costs of ?2,661 each or serve an extra two weeks in prison.

Mr and Mrs Meager, who resigned as Tory St Mary’s ward councillors in November last year, hung their heads as they were handcuffed and led down to the cells…..

The Mirror covers the story as well:

Two Tory councillors were jailed yesterday for swindling their own council in a benefits scam.

Alan, 49, and Kate Meager, 55, had their own business, a US holiday home, and a rented-out flat but claimed ?3,400 in council tax benefits.

Judge David Cooper at Chelmsford magistrates court in Essex jailed the couple for 28 days.

He said: “You have both shown cynical and breathtaking dishonesty and greed over many years.”

Mrs Meager, of Benfleet, Essex, said she was a single parent and didn’t tell Castle Point council she got tax credits.

Meanwhile in Rayleigh, a depressing Echo news story from Hambro Hill:

YOBS armed with bricks, wood and lumps of concrete caused tens of thousands of pounds’ damage to 12 new vans parked in a compound.

The vandals threw lumps of heavy masonry, wood and bricks over the fence of the car compound in Hambro Hill, Rayleigh, which is owned by the Essex Autogroup.

The attack left ten Ford Transit vans and two Ford Tourneo vans with dented bodywork, smashed windscreens, broken bumpers, smashed headlights and trashed wheel-trims.

It is possible some of the vans have been damaged so badly they cannot be sold to the public and will be written off . The company faces a bill of up to ?260,000 for the damage….

  • Who are we going to blame this time for the young yobs that caused all that damage? If and when they find the people who did this, their parents, as well as the yobs, should be made to attend court. Even if there is not much to do in Town you do not cause £260,000 of damage, just for a laugh. This is overstepping the mark by a wide margin. Any thoughts on what could or should be done?

  • Who said that they were “young”? The article reads:

    “Presumably it was a group of young people with nothing better to do, who chose to have some fun at our expense.”

    Where is the evidence? Everyone seems really quick to blame youth for all crime but my experience is that its the older grouos who are causer greater problems rather than just crimes of perception.

  • Mike, ‘overstepping the mark’ is putting it mildly….. With criminal damage , blame lies with the vandals.

    Re the parents, if it was juveniles responsible of course I think they should be in court. But I wouldn’t like to comment further until more is known about the ages of the people concerned and what actually happened. You’d have to be pretty big to throw ‘lumps of heavy masonry’ over a fence and onto these vehicles – or did they climb over the fence themselves?

  • Chris, my belief is that if these vandals are under 18 and are classed as minors, parents still have a role to play in instilling in their offspring social responsibility. If they are 18 and above, the parents normally do not or do not want as much responsibility. However, “a child is for life not just for Christmas” as the saying goes! As far as what happened in Hambro Hill is concerned, this must have been planned. You would very rarely get such acts of vandalism on the spur of the moment. This would entail a ring leader planning such an act. Maybe the ages of youngsters were varied, however it does not bode well for the future if we have people in our community who relish this kind of mindless vandalism. This was a sad day for Rayleigh and a day which may be replicated if we do not come down hard on those people involved.

  • When I was teaching, we had one student who was a boxer. I am talking year 10 here and not college. You would be very surprised at how much weight some youngsters can lift and throw. With weight training being adopted as part of the KS4 curriculum, it is not impossible for 14 year olds to lift reasonably heavy weights.

    Can someone also give me the definition of “heavy” as written in the report? What is one persons definition is not necessarily anothers, and is therefore ambiguous reporting and should not be taken at face value.

  • Reading the story and taking into consideration the location, It is away from both the station and the town centre. I would be inclined to agree with M Smith to me it looks like a planned attack. Rather than a drunken spur of the moment thing. It is not a prominent location and the vans are not visible from the main road. It would have been done by someone with a detailed knowledge of Rayleigh and the means of transporting the items used to carry out the damage. Unless the items were taken from a building site nearby. We certainly need more information before we can even guess at who would have done this or why.

  • So are we saying here that youngsters don’t have the capability to plan something?

    From what is described in the news article, nothing needed to be taken with them – bricks, pieces of wood and concrete can easily be picked up, and if there is a building site nearby, then this is obviously where the “missiles” where taken from.

    The article also only mentions that objects where thrown over the fence, it would therefore appear that the yard had not been broken into.

    If this was a planned attack, and to be honest, I don’t believe it was, I am confident that the yard would have been entered and more damage would have been done and to vehicles further away than those closest to the fence, and I am assuming that these would have been the only ones that would have had any damage.

    Also I question the cost of damage. If my math is correct if 12 vans have been damaged to a cost of £260,000 that would imply that the average cost of each van would be £21,666. If a new Ford Transit is £17,896 (that’s the most expensive I could find on the Internet) and the Tourneo is £17,300 (again the most expensive I could find) you’re looking at damage of £213,560, so where has the other £46,400 pounds worth of damage come from? Please don’t get me wrong here, any amount of damage is inexcusable, what I question here is the accuracy of the reporting.

    One last thing – if you have that amount of stock in your yard, why isn’t there any CCTV monitoring it? Again, don’t get me wrong here, in the ideal world you wouldn’t need it, but this is far from the ideal world, and we all know what vandals are capable off.

  • What age do we constitute a ‘youngster’ to be? Maybe I am wrong but I call everyone a youngster up to the age of 18 and maybe my comment has been taken as meaning pre-teens or young teens, however my experience of young teens on 31st October was no joke, when I had a bucket of Grease, oil and leftover chinese food thrown over me while I was walking home from work, ruining suit, coat, etc.etc. with the lads friends laughing on the other side of the road. These lads were no older than 14/15 years of age (maybe younger). I certainly do not think all youngsters of that age are bad but there are plenty of them about.
    Now the reason they act the way they do IS NOT THEIR FAULT but their parents. Parents have a duty to teach their children right from wrong and social responsibility but a large minority of parents are not doing this. Schools, Police, Society does not have the responsibility, parents do and no one else!

    Back to the vandalism, if my comments were taken to mean younger children, then I apologise, however older teens do seem to have more of a hold over the younger one’s than their parents and if these parents do not take back responsibility for their children we will be facing far worse than we have now.

  • Thanks Corey, I am not demonising young people but I am their parents. I never took the easy way out with my two, who are now 21 and 18 and I am very proud of them but it was not easy. Parenting is not easy and it takes up a huge part of your life to do it right. Too many parents are happy for their children to go out into Rayleigh on a Friday or Saturday afternoon/evening and not know or care what they are getting up to. If parents do not or can not influence their children there are plenty of older ‘youngsters’ who will. I just wish some of these people who think people like me have got a downer on youngsters would go into Rayleigh town at these times or maybe cross the bridge at Rayleigh station between 9pm and 2am. It is about time that parents were brought to book about what their children are getting up to and not bleat on about not being able to control them!

  • I agree, I don’t have any children yet (although working on it with the aid of Southend Adoption and Fostering Services), but have had plenty of experience of working with teenagers, and their parents, to know that there are far too many parents who throw the job of raising their children at local authorities. I lost count of how many times I had had to speak to parents about their childrens behaviour in school to be told “They were in school, it’s your problem!”, quiet simply it is NOT! Whilst in school, the burden on the teaching staff is simply to educate them, not to be the primary disciplinarian, which unfortunately is too often the case.

    As I have posted before, if natural parents jumped through the same hoops that we are having too in order to adopt, they may think twice before having children! Such as: CRB checks, local authority checks, health checks, 6 months of home study with a social worker going through the most private areas of your life and 4 days of parenting seminars, we are now looking at a process that will take a whole year before we even get to know if we have been approved to be parents or not! Am sure that if everyone went through this process – then those that don’t know what their children are up too, or where they are, or when they’ll be home and leave raising their children to others, probably wouldn’t have children now! Obviously those that have raised their children to love and respect will still have them because they would see that that year was a year well invested.