Caddie fraudster spared jail

The Kingsbarns Golf Club on the East Neuk of Fife
The Kingsbarns Golf Club on the East Neuk of Fife
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A CADDIE who claimed thousands of pounds in benefits - including hundreds for disability - while carrying golfers’ bags at one of Scotland’s most prestigious golf courses has been spared jail.

Robert Lothian claimed incapacity benefit while working as a £45 a round, plus tip, caddie at world renowned Kingsbarns Golf Links, near St Andrews, Fife.

The course is one of the most highly rated in Scotland and has been repeatedly named in the world’s top 100 courses.

Lothian also claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit that he was not entitled to over an eight month period in 2011.

Fiscal depute Brian Robertson told Cupar Sheriff Court: “After inquiries with the Department of Work and Pensions we have agreed the figure claimed was a total of £2848.01.

“The accused was working as a golf caddie. He was effectively self employed at the golf club and the club staff would contact him as and when the work was available for him.”

The prosecutor added: “There is nothing to tender in terms of previous convictions.”

Along with Carnoustie and the St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns hosts the annual Dunhill Links Championship, which pairs celebrities with professionals in a pro-am tournament.

Famous people involved in the tournament have included Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson, Boris Becker, Gary Lineker, Michael Douglas and Oscar Pistorius.

Lothian, 49, of Cellardyke, Fife, had originally pleaded not guilty to three charges, brought under the Social Security Administration Act, alleged to have been committed between 6 April 2010 and 20 August 2011.

But minutes before his trial was due to commence he pleaded guilty to all three charges, amended to have taken place between 1 January 2011 and 20 August 2011.

David Bell, defending, said Lothian was repaying the cash at £10 per week.

He said: “He has been repaying the incapacity benefit and income support at £10.70 a week.

“There is no agreement with Fife Council as to repaying the council tax and housing benefit at the moment.

“His employment was sporadic and casual at times. He clearly didn’t inform the DWP as he should have.

“He’s not presently in employment. This was a complicated case.”

Sheriff Charles Macnair QC imposed a community payback order requiring Lothian to do 225 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He said the order was a direct alternative to a jail term.

The sheriff said: “Benefit fraud is easy to commit and hard to detect.

“This was a substantial sum of almost £3,000 over an eight month period.

“Having regard to the guideline cases the appropriate penalty is unpaid work as an alternative to custody.”