Monday, 30 April 2012

Sainsbury's £8.7M Potato Corruption Scandal

A greedy Sainsbury's executive received corrupt payments totalling £4.9m from a huge potato supplier who lavished him with "excessive gifts and hospitality" for granting them a lucrative multi-million pound contract.

Buyer John Maylam, 44, ran up a £200,000 bill at London's Claridge's Hotel; enjoyed a luxury £350,000 twelve-day holiday to the Monaco Grand Prix and received cash payments totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds stuffed inside brown envelopes.

Maylam, ( of Bearstead, Maidstone has pleaded guilty to corruption between January 1, 2006 and January 1, 2008 by accepting gifts from directors of potato giants Greenvale AP and acquiring criminal property, namely £1,158m held in a Luxembourg bank account.

Greenvale's account manager, David Baxter, 50, (pic.mid.) of Hinstock, Market Drayton has pleaded guilty to corruptly giving Maylam gifts and consideration between the same dates and acquiring criminal property, namely goods, services and cash between June 1 and July 1, 2007.

Both men will be sentenced after the trial of Greenvale finance director Andrew Behagg, 60, (pic.bottom) of London Road, Cambridge, who denies corruption and told police he was the victim of "extortion" by Maylam.

"What this case concerns is corruption on a massive scale through the payments of gifts and hospitality," prosecutor Mr. Paul Ozin told the Croydon Crown Court jury today. "As a result of the corruption Greenvale gained the benefit of keeping Sainsbury's' valuable business and overcharging Sainsbury's for potatoes."

The £40m contract was ratified by Maylam and Greenvale poured £8.7m of Sainsbury's money into an account nicknamed 'The Fund' - paying Maylam and his associates £4.9m and keeping the remainder for themselves, the jury were told.

"Mr. Maylam was corrupted with wholly excessive gifts and hospitality to show favour to Greenvale and work against the interests of his own employers," explained Mr. Ozin. "The hospitality ran into many hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"Firstly they reimbursed Mr. Maylam's own extravagant expenses after he entertained himself at luxury restaurants and hotels, paying his bills at luxury london hotel's, including Claridge's, which came to two hundred thousand pounds.

"Not only was he staying at the hotel, but he was using it as a bank and withdrawing thousands of pounds.

"There were further payments for luxury holidays abroad and very, very lavish corporate entertainment."

Greenvale were overcharging Sainsbury's to finance the bribes and the supermarket giant knew nothing of the arrangement, said Mr. Ozin. "What is in it for Sainsbury's to fund Mr. Maylam's stays at Claridges, dining on fine food and drinking champagne while at the same time taking out large sums of cash?"

Sainsbury's own code of conduct demands all hospitality gifts must be placed in a charity raffle and failure to do so may result in misconduct proceedings and dismissal.

"Further money was syphoned off by Mr. Maylam by using bogus businesses pretending to be something else and became another way of taking lot's of money," added the prosecutor.

"One and a half million pounds was paid to Mr. Maylam through third parties and a bank account in Luxembourg. The payments were made on the bogus basis they were for potato research or storage of potatoes in Spain.

"A peculiar feature of the corruption was that it was self-funding. Greenvale were not paying for it, Sainsbury's were paying for the corruption of their own buyer and this was achieved by overcharging Sainsbury's."

Baxter, who was based at offices in Stoke Heath will give evidence against Behagg, who worked from Chatteris. "Mr. Baxter paints a picture of corruption that goes to the very heart of Greenvale. To the senior management," said Mr. Ozin.

Baxter claims Maylam had an arrangement with the company's chief executive officer from June, 2005 to receive secret cash reimbursements for his expenses.

"Mr. Maylam sent his receipts in envelopes to Mr. Baxter's home address to avoid Greenvale scrutiny and he then took them to Mr. Behagg. Mr. Baxter would then deliver the cash in a brown envelope to Mr. Maylam.

"Mr Baxter says 'The Fund' was discussed in senior management meetings that were attended by Mr. Behagg, who explained to the others what went through the books.

"Mr. Maylam then made it clear he wanted more and was told the payment could be for a consultancy report, which was suggested by Mr. Behagg. This resulted in a payment of eighty-five thousand pounds."

Sainsbury's also ended up paying more for Greenvale's potatoes than agreed.

"What happened under Sainsbury's radar was that Mr. Maylam was agreeing to massive increases in the price of potatoes. The prices were much too high.

"One technique was to add on one pound to a crate and with the volume we are talking about it soon adds up," said Mr. Ozin. "They also supplied smaller packs for the same price and there were illogical prices for new packs."

Behagg was arrested and questioned by fraud detectives. "He said Mr. Baxter told him Mr. Maylam was offering better prices in return for Greenvale providing him with entertainment and hospitality.

"They believed that if they did not do what Mr. Maylam was asking they would lose Sainsbury's business. He described is as 'extortion' by Mr. Maylam.

"He said he assumed Mr. Maylam had the permission of Sainsbury's to use 'The Fund' for whatever he wanted.

"His explanation that Sainsbury's knew what was going on is incredible."

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Boiling-Water Torture Burglar Convicted

A balaclava-clad armed burglar has been convicted of pouring a kettle of boiling water over a terrified householder in front of his wife and 11 year-old step-daughter.

Marcus Hayes, 24, and two accomplices ransacked the suburban semi-detached house (pictured) and also threatened to cut off the victim's ear and poked him with kitchen knives.

He was convicted at Croydon Crown Court of aggravated burglary, while armed with an imitation firearm, at the property in The Ridge, Coulsdson on August 10, 2010.

Hayes was also unanimously found guilty by the jury of falsely imprisoning the three occupants, robbing the couple, inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing an imitation firearm with intent.

Prosecutor Claire Robinson told the court it was 4pm when the unsuspecting occupants opened the front door and were confronted by a man holding a gun wrapped in a plastic bag.

Three intruders, one wearing a balaclava and another with a scarf wrapped around his face, burst in.

"The crown say Hayes was the man with the balaclava and he was also wearing a hoodie.

"The man with the gun hit the male victim on the back of the head and they asked questions like: 'Where's the money, where's the jewellery?'

"In the garage they were all held down on the floor and a bracelet and necklace were taken from the woman and her husband was asked to empty his pockets," explained Miss robinson.

The family were frog-marched upstairs as the gang continued the hunt for jewellery and valuables.

"The man was put face-down on the bed and the gun was put to the back of his head.

"One of the intruders started to slowly cut the man's ear with a pair of scissors and he was punched in the face.

"One of the kitchen knives was used to poke him around the body.

"Boiling water from the kettle was poured over his back and the remainder over his thigh and stomach," added the prosecutor.

The couple were left tied-up in the living-room as the gang fled - taking with them a £10,000 diamond solitaire necklace.

The male victim was rushed to Croydon University Hospital , where he was treated for burns to 8% of his body surface.

Hayes dumped his balaclava and hoodie in nearby bushes and police matched his DNA to the clothing.

He was arrested on October 27 and tried to convinced police he previously left the items in a friend's van, but was later charged on December 23.

Judge Shani Barnes announced: "This is a case of an incredibly grave nature and I have to consider whether the defendant goes to prison indefinitely."

Hayes was remanded in custody until May 25 at Lewes Crown Court.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cocaine Courier's 8 Ball & Chain

A Derby cocaine courier, convicted yesterday of smuggling over £300,000 worth of the drug from the Caribbean, has been jailed for eight years.

Simon Brown, 38, of Osmaston Park Road was unanimously found guilty by a Croydon Crown Court (pictured) jury of importing 1.86 kilos of 100% pure cocaine at Gatwick Airport on January 9, last year.

"Here you are, back before the crown court yet again, this time for the most serious offence of all," the Recorder of Croydon, Judge Warwick McKinnon told Brown.

"You have an unenviable record. You do not lead a law-abiding life, you are a lawless individual," added the judge, after hearing the defendant has multiple convictions, which include the supply of ecstasy and cocaine in Derby.

"You did not think twice about going out on this drug-running trip. You went there in order to bring drugs back and you brought back a significant quantity.

"I am satisfied by your text messages that you were dealing in drugs. It is obvious you were dealing in drugs, but to what extent is unclear.

"You were more than a mere courier. I saw and heard from you in the witness box, you are very much your own individual."

Brown had just stepped off a flight from Antigua, where he claimed to have merely enjoyed an innocent ten-day holiday, when stopped by the UK Border Agency.

They found four packages containing cocaine hidden inside the lining of his suit carrier.

Brown insisted he knew nothing about the drugs and had been given the bag by a friend of his cousin's, who he knew only as 'Don', shortly before flying home.

Incriminating text messages, suggesting cocaine-dealing, were found on Brown's phone, but the powerfully-built defendant tried to convince the jury he was referring to body-building drugs.

"You are not an unintelligent man and I place you in the category of playing a significant role in this importation," added Judge McKinnon.

"Whether or not you were going to sell all the cocaine or whether you are a retailer or wholesaler, whichever way you analyse it I do not regard you as a traditional courier."

Brown was also made subject to a Travel Restriction Order, which prohibits foreign travel for four years after his day of release.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Speeding Uninsured L-Driver Jailed For Killing Budding Dancer

A speeding hit-and-run unlicensed L-driver, who set fire to his car after killing a talented 14 year-old girl dancer, was jailed for six-and-a-half years yesterday.

Alessia Boschiazzo (pictured) has passed her audition to the BRIT school the day before she was run over and her heartbroken family received the acceptance letter after her life-support machine had been switched off.

Apprentice scaffolder Steven Saunders, 22, of Gardeners Close, Motingham admitted causing Alessia's death by dangerous driving in Moreland Road, Croydon on February 25, last year and causing death by driving while unlicensed and uninsured.

He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, namely setting fire to his Renault Clio in a cul-de-sac half a mile away, a blaze which caused £10,000 worth of damage to two other vehicles.

The Carshalton teenager - whose ambition was to become a professional dancer - was described by her devastated mother Cecilia Flores as: "A lovely, happy teenager full of goals and targets in her life."

Saunders, who has a previous conviction of failing to stop for police while driving a stolen car, was speeding at 50mph in a 30mph residential road and "darting and weaving in and out of traffic," Croydon Crown Court was told.

He was rushing to a restaurant date with his girlfriend and decided to drive the car, which he had only bought a few days earlier, and had already driven on at least two occasions.

Alessia was struck as she crossed the dimly lit road and Saunders immediately sped off.

"Miss Boschiazzo was left lying in the road. She sustained very serious injuries and was taken to St. George's Hospital for treatment," said prosecutor Mr. James Brown.

"She died a week later on the fourth of March. Her injuries were extensive and fatal."

Alessia's father Aldo Boschiazzo, who was described in court as a "broken man" was too emotional and angry to attend, but in a statement said: "I am living a life sentence now. Every day of my life is a nightmare."

The Recorder of Croydon Warwick McKinnon told Saunders: "This is a quite dreadful and tragic case. You mowed down that poor girl at the beginning of her life. She was only fourteen and had everything to live for.

"There you were, a provisional driver, who had bought this car a few days before this dreadful accident.

"You had driven it at least twice before while unlicensed and you drove at a grossly excessive speed inappropriate to the circumstances.

"You may have seen Alessia moments before the collision, but before that you were accelerating towards her and it sounds almost pathetic to say you were doing that because you were running late.

"What aggravates this is that having struck Alessia, you almost without thinking sped off straight away and went to the nearest out of the way cul de sac we you set fire to your vehicle with the intention of getting away with the dreadful crime you had committed."

Thursday, 26 April 2012

BNP Throat-Slasher Xmas Killer Caged For 26-Year Minimum

A BNP supporter - whose terrifying collection of knives included a swastika-embossed dagger - was jailed for life yesterday for slashing a lost Indian man's throat on Christmas night.

Sheet metal worker David Folley, 35, was convicted of murdering 36 year-old Inderjit Singh - known as 'Raj' to friends - in the early hours of Christmas Day 2010 and will serve a minimum of 26 years.

The confused victim (pic.l.), described as a "quiet, calm, gentle, fun-loving man" was looking for a pal's address, but ended up outside Folley's front door at 28 Calshot Walk, Bedford and was stabbed to death on the landing.

Above his body was an ominous sign the defendant had placed above his front door, which read: 'Danger of Death. Keep Out.'

Police later found a BNP flyer displayed in the defendant's flat and seized a t-shirt, with the words: "Fuck off. We're full," depicting a boat called SS Asylum heading for the white cliff of Dover.

"Mr. Singh had lost his way that evening, having come from a late-night carol service at his local church and tragically he ended up on your landing, somewhat the worse for wear," the Recorder of Croydon Judge Warwick McKinnon told Folley.

"He settled himself down and was drinking from a bottle of whisky and you, yourself were clearly intoxicated and plainly annoyed by Mr. Singh's presence on your landing. You saw it as someone invading your territory.

"You worked yourself up into a rage, took a knife from your kitchen, and the drunk Mr. Singh, helpless and vulnerable stood no chance.

"You sliced his throat open as if you were killing an animal. It is plain to me you are a dangerous man. He posed absolutely no threat to you."

Folley (pic.r.) confirmed his BNP sympathies from the witness box, telling jurors: "I believe you should put British people first."

Officers seized three crossbows from his unkempt flat - one with a telescopic sight - a 17" 'Bad To The Bone" folding knife, the swastika-embossed dagger and a variety of other weapons, including baseball bats, swords and a rifle.

"The prosecution say this defendant took a knife from his flat and cut the throat of Inderjit Singh, leaving him to die on the staircase of the block of flats," prosecutor Mr. Stuart Alford told the court.

Folley had arrived home in the early hours, after an all-day drinking session during which he downed up to fourteen pints, and murdered Mr. Singh soon afterwards.

Tiny spots of airborne blood were found on the defendant's jeans, placing him at the scene at the time of the fatal stabbing.

Folley claimed Mr. Singh had already been attacked by the time he returned home, insisting: "I saw this bloke lying there and there was blood everywhere."

No murder weapon was ever identified, but a kitchen knife capable of inflicting the wound was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag bearing the defendant's fingerprint inside his secure dustbin.

Folley was also convicted of causing actual bodily harm to fellow Woodhill Prison inmate Norman Grant, whose chin he cut with a sharpened plastic knife and received nine months imprisonment to run concurrently with the life sentence.

Sikh Mr. Singh had come to the UK after an arranged marriage and his ex-wife and daughter were in court.

"There is some evidence this was a racially-motivated killing, but I cannot be satisfied to the necessary high standard," added Judge McKinnon.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Alleged Cocaine Courier Claims To Be "Shocked" By 300K Find

A Derby man, stopped by customs officers with over £300,000 worth of cocaine hidden in his luggage, told a jury today: "I was shocked when they said there were drugs in my suit carrier."

Simon Brown, 38, of Osmaston Park Road has pleaded not guilty at Croydon Crown Court to importing 1.86 kilos of 100% pure cocaine at Gatwick Airport on January 9, last year.

He had just stepped off a flight from Antigua, where he claims he enjoyed an innocent ten-day holiday over the new year.

"I did not know there was anything in my suitcase. That is one hundred per cent the truth," Brown told the court.

UK Border Agency officers found a total of 3.72 kilos of white powder hidden in the lining, of which 1.86 kilos was pure cocaine.

Brown told the jury he was given the suit carrier by a friend of his cousin's - who he knows only as 'Don' - at the end of the trip.

The three men had partied and smoked weed on the Caribbean island and spent nights at a club called 'Mystique.'

"There was a reason for me to borrow a bigger bag for clothing I was going to buy," insisted the defendant.

However, he did not implicate 'Don' as the man responsible for hiding the cocaine in the luggage.

"He did not put cocaine in the bag, he did not get me in trouble. I don't know when the cocaine was put in the bag.

"I know my family would not do this."

Brown conceded the half-empty bag was a little heavier than it should have been when he collected it at the airport's south terminal.

"As I picked it up I did think: 'What have I packed?' Because it felt different.

"They told me there was powder, which they believed to be cocaine, class a drugs, and I was thinking to myself: 'What is going on?

"The officer interviewing me had made up his mind that he was not going to believe anything I said and told me I was a liar."

Prosecutor Mr. Mark Stern told Brown: "Your whole explanation as to how you came to have this bag is nonsense."

Trial continues………..

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Businesswoman's Illegal £7M Virgin Media Pirate Decoder Trade

A businesswoman, who cheated Virgin Media out of potential sales of £7m by selling pirate set-top satellite tv boxes from her suburban home, avoided prison with a suspended sentence today.

Ex-estate agent Julie Morris, 40, of Laburnum Gardens, Shirley Oaks Village, Shirley illegally sold nearly 1,000 decoders via her website '' as well as pirated video games.

The mother-of-three was raided by trading standards officers accompanied by the police and an investigator from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) at her former home in nearby Morris Close on June 22, 2009.

"There is no such thing as free cable television and you knew that," Croydon Crown Court Judge Nicholas Ainley told the first-time offender. "This was a thoroughly professional theft of intellectual property."

Morris (pictured) pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading between January 31, 2008 and June 23, 2009 by selling set top boxes, decryption codes, software and instructions to avoid paying a subscription to Virgin Media and supplying counterfeit Nintendo DS games.

Prosecutor Miss Francesca Levett told the court an ELSPA investigator bought Morris's Nintendo games bundle for £44.99, which contained 500 pirated games with a retail value of £9,500.

This prompted an investigation into 'The Digital Cable Company Ltd.' and the raid, which recovered 40 set top boxes, a decryption key reference and a document called 'Enabling Key Emulator' which gave a 10-point guide on how to unscramble channels.

Also found were advertising flyers asking: "Do you want free cable TV?"

Morris also provided customers with new codes to dodge Virgin Media's latest security measures.

Records proved her company sold at least 924 illegal set top boxes, which provided the full service of channels.

If those customers had legitimately paid Virgin Media for the same service it would have cost them a total of £7m.

"That is the notional loss to Virgin Media. We do not have accurate figures," said Miss Levett.

Similarly if all the illegal nintendo games were bought legitimately they would have cost nearly £200,000.

The prosecution estimate Morris earned up to £45,000 from the scam, but she says all profits were ploughed into funding the website and she made nothing.

Her lawyer Mr. Craig Rush told the court: "She was bored and for her own self-worth needed her own source of money."

Morris was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to perform 250 hours community service and pay £5,000 costs.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Caribbean New Year Holidaymaker Denies Smuggling Over £300K Worth Of Cocaine

A cocaine smuggler, was caught "red handed" with over £300,000 worth of the drug hidden in the lining of his luggage after stepping off a flight from the Caribbean, a jury were told today.

Simon Brown, 38, of Osmaston Park Road, Derby claims the suit carrier was given to him by "some geezer" in an Antigua nightclub and he was delivering it as a favour.

He has pleaded not guilty at Croydon Crown Court (pictured) to importing 1.86 kilos of 100% pure cocaine at Gatwick Airport on January 9, last year.

"The Crown say he was caught red handed with an enormous amount of cocaine and has given a ridiculous story," said prosecutor Mr. Mark Stern.

"That enormous quantity of cocaine was imported into this country by this defendant, hidden in the lining of a black suitcase."

Brown was stopped in the airport's south terminal ten days after he had jetted off to the Caribbean island.

"The defendant said he had been to Antigua for a holiday and had family there and his mother had bought the ticket.

"He said he had packed the suitcase and knew it was illegal to carry drugs," added Mr. Stern.

"All that was inside the case was an empty holdall, three tops and some smaller items, but it still felt heavy when emptied.

"An x-ray confirmed there were packages in the lining. One was spiked and the white powder inside tested positive for cocaine."

The total weight of the packages were 3.72 kilos, of which 1.86 kilos was 100% pure cocaine.

Enquiries revealed a 'Simon Brown' had bought the Virgin Atlantic tickets in cash.

When questioned Brown denied knowing the case contained hidden cocaine.

"He claimed he had been at a club called 'Mystique' for a new year's party and claimed he got the suit carrier from his cousin's friend.

"He said it was just: 'One of the geezer's' at club 'Mystique' added Mr. Stern. "He said he had been given a phone number to return the bag to this geezer's friend in London."

However, the prosecution claim the phone number was Brown's and there is no person in London expecting to receive the bag.

"That number belonged to this defendant, it was his bag, his drugs.

"There are also texts consistent with someone selling cocaine and those texts were found on this defendant's phone."

The trial continues………

Sunday, 22 April 2012

House of Reeves Arsonist Jailed

An arsonist who destroyed a 150 year-old landmark family furniture business during last Summer’s Croydon riots has been jailed for eleven years-and-a-half years.

Gordon Thompson, 34, (pictured) set light to a sofa inside the shattered window of The House of Reeves, Reeves Corner on August 8, last year.

He pleaded guilty to arson two days into his Old Bailey trial and also admitted violent disorder and burgling The House of Fraser and Iceland in nearby Surrey Street.

After looting the frozen food supermarket Thompson was caught on CCTV entering the department store and emerging with armfuls of stolen booty.

CCTV also captured Thompson at The House of Reeves, where he ripped a shattered glass pane from its frame and entered the premises.

He stole a laptop computer and while leaving the store he asked another person for a lighter.

As soon as he was given one, he set fire to a sofa inside the shop. 

The resulting fire was devastating and once The House of Reeves was ablaze, glowing embers from the fire set light to the residential property on the other side of the road and residents were forced to flee for their lives.

The furniture shop was razed to the ground and all that remained were the supporting walls and a pile of smouldering rubble.

The fire produced one of the most iconic images from the disorder, which captured a terrified resident jumping from her burning flat into the arms of police officers below. 

Thompson was arrested on August 14 by a local police officer who recognised him.

He was interviewed on five occasions but refused to comment.

Superintendent Simon Messinger said: “People all across the country were outraged by the shocking images of local businesses and homes being destroyed by mindless criminals on the eighth of August.

“The fire at Reeves Corner provided some of the most iconic images but we must also remember that other businesses and homes were destroyed and local people were lucky to escape without serious harm.

“So far over 400 people have been arrested in Croydon for their involvement in the disorder with almost 300 people charged.

“My officers will continue to trawl through CCTV images and identify all those who were involved.

“I would like to thank the public for continuing to assist us with this investigation, without their help positive identifications of many of the images would not have been made.”

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Gunman Caught By Police

A gunman identified driving a car linked to firearms offences has been jailed for seven years after a police stakeout.

Robert Shorter, 34, (pictured) of Ranelagh Road, Wembley was arrested on October 21, last year after exiting the vehicle in Eastcote Lane, Northolt.

He was convicted at Isleworth Crown Court of possessing a converted .38mm Olympic pistol and ammunition.

Shorter realised he had been spotted by police and unsuccessfully tried to distance himself from the car – holing up in a nearby property – but was arrested when he walked out of the front door.

When the vehicle was searched police found the loaded pistol.

Detective Sergeant Chris Hudson from Ealing Borough Police Serious Violence Team said: “We are really pleased with this result.

“Shorter maintained his innocence throughout this trial and claimed he was the innocent victim of lending the vehicle to his associates and had no knowledge of the firearm in the vehicle.

“However, thanks to the evidence presented, this man is now in jail and no longer a danger to the public.”

Friday, 20 April 2012

Jobcentre Civil Servants Facing Prison For £1.7M Benefit Scam

Three Jobcentre civil servants have been convicted of a £1.7m plot involving at least 1,767 bogus claims for maternity benefit, tax credit and jobseekers allowance.

They abused their authorised access to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) database too research claimants all over the country and make multiple fraudulent claims on their behalf, Croydon Crown Court (pictured) was told.

They are: Anthony Ekajeh, 48, of Pinewood Avenue, Rainham; Fiayo Akinwumiju, 35, of The Sycamore, Brighton Road, Coulsdon and Olufemi Kehinde, 47, of Bollo Bridge Road, Acton.

"You will be remanded in custody until sentencing," Judge Heather Boucher told them today.

Three co-conspirators, who have jumped bail and are wanted by police, were also convicted in their absence by the jury.

They are: Folahan Akinwumiju, 34, of Narev Court, Cedar Avenue, Enfield; Charles Okedare, 40, of Barass Close, Enfield and Wale Akande, 45, of Lovett Way, Willesden.

"All six defendants are alleged to have been involved in a sophisticated and organised fraud targeted against the benefit system," said prosecutor Mr. Andrew Evans during the trial.

"It was carried out by submitting a large of false benefit claim forms and the claimants had no idea these claims had been made and did not complete or sign the forms.

"Their identities had been hijacked.

"A large number of claims were made for Sure Start Maternity Grants (SSMG) a one-off five hundred pound payment to help persons on benefits or low income to buy clothes or equipment for their new baby," added Mr. Evans.

A total of 1,562 bogus SSMG claims were made, plus 205 false claims to HMRC for tax credits and a lesser amount of jobseeker claims, totalling £4,515.

The civil servants in the dock were all at executive officer grade and Ekajeh worked at Dagenham Jobcentre; Akinwumiju at Crawley and Kehinde at Fulham.

The vast majority of the false claims were paid into Post Office Card Accounts (POCA). "They had also been opened in hijacked identities," said Mr. Evans.

"The three absent defendants can be linked to SSMG's that were falsified or to the POCA's to which the benefit payments are made.

"Accounts were opened in their names or the names of their family or in one case a company under their control."

Ekajeh was suspended in March 2010 after ten years in the civil service, where he also had a deputy management role and responsibility for the stock room, which contained blank claim forms.

"He was seen coming out of the stock room wearing an outdoor coat and carrying a plastic pouch that seemed quite full.

"From July 2009 he carried out a large number of unauthorised searches outside the area of the Dagenham Jobcentre and in his last month searched 105 other offices around the country in relation to 1600 clients.

"He played a key and principal role in these three frauds.

"He was also involved in yet another fraud, diverting payments of genuine jobseeker claims," added Mr. Evans. "He altered the bank details into which the payments should have been made."

Fiayo Akinwumiju was suspended in August, 2009. "In two weeks he accessed forty-three customers he had no legitimate reason to access.

"Shortly after false SSMG claims were made in their identities. In one hour he looked up twenty-four different benefit customers and thirty-six claims were made in the names of those customers.

"In a six-month period fifty-two customers were accessed and false tax credit claims were made in their names."

Kehinde was suspended on October 1, 2010. "On three dates he used the search facility to identify and access benefit customers all over the country and false SSMG claims were made in their identities.

"He also made searches in Bedford and yielded fifteen customers and twenty-one claims were made in those names that were false.

"All the searches were carried out after 6pm when the office was closed. He also played a key role in the fraud."

Folahan Akinwumiju claimed income support as a single parent and was arrested when his fingerprints were found on a bogus claim form and his home searched by police.

"They found a vast quantity of documents for various bank accounts, with various banks and in various names."

Three POCA cards were seized. "They were the end user accounts into which the fraudulent SSMG claims were paid."

Okedare was arrested in August, 2010. "Twenty POCA cards were found in his car and eighteen of them either received or requested fraudulent payments."

The jury were told Okedare was also captured on CCTV at a Post Office in nearby Bush Hill Park using POCA cards in the fraud to withdraw cash.

His handwriting was also identified on fraudulent claims and he had a National Insurance number on his phone involved in a bogus claim.

Akande was arrested in September, 2010. "His fingerprint was identified on two SSMG claim forms and he can also be linked via the accounts."

The six defendants, all of Nigerian origin were convicted of conspiring between January 1, 2009 and October 2, 2010 to defraud the DWP out of £820,000.

Ekajeh and Fiayo Akinwumiju alone were convicted of conspiring between November, 2005 and July, 2010 to defraud HMRC out of £898,000.

Ekajeh alone was convicted of conspiring to defraud the DWP out of £4,515.

A seventh defendant, Akinmayowe Aiyeola, 46, of Primrose Lane, Croydon pleaded guilty to all three counts and and eighth, Kelvin Akhigbe, 37, of Chapel Close, Grays admitted five counts of fraud by false representation in relation to four SSMG claims and a community care claim.

The defendants will be sentenced on May 4.