Former MP Jared O'Mara jailed for four years for expenses fraud to bankroll cocaine habit

9 February 2023, 13:09 | Updated: 9 February 2023, 13:34

Jared O'Mara stepped down as Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam after a string of controversies in 2019
Jared O'Mara stepped down as Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam after a string of controversies in 2019. Picture: Alamy/South Yorkshire Police
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Former Labour MP Jared O'Mara has been jailed for four years after making fraudulent expenses claims worth around £52,000 while in office.

O'Mara was convicted of six counts of fraud after trying to claim about taxpayers' money for work that was never carried out and for jobs that did not exist.

He was convicted on Wednesday of six counts of fraud by false representation.

The former Labour MP made four claims for a total of £19,400 from a "fictitious" organisation called Confident About Autism South Yorkshire, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

Jared O'Mara will spend four years in jail
Jared O'Mara will spend four years in jail. Picture: South Yorkshire Police

A jury found he submitted a false contract of employment for his friend John Woodliff, pretending he worked as a constituency support officer.

O'Hara, who also used to manage a nightclub, was cleared of two fraud charges after media work prosectors claimed never took place.

Read More: Former MP Jared O'Mara guilty of six counts of expenses fraud to fund his cocaine habit

But the ex-Labour MP was convicted of an offence of fraud after emailing Ipsa in February 2020, falsely claiming the police investigation into him was over and he was entitled to £4,650.

He won the Sheffield Hallam constituency for Labour from former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg in 2017, but left two years later after a string of controversies.

Ex-Labour MP Jared O'Mara
Ex-Labour MP Jared O'Mara. Picture: Alamy

He stayed in Parliament as an independent, but did not stand in 2019.

O'Mara's defendant Mark Kelly said the former MP wanted to apologise to his constituents after failing to resign in October 2017.

"When he felt that he was being hounded by the media, whether that is the case or not, he felt under pressure from the media for certain circumstances that had come to light," Mr Kelly said.

He told the court O'Mara was "an inadequate individual to cope with the stresses and strains of public life" and "resorted to taking drugs, alcohol and distancing himself in many respects from those that were around him".

Judge Tom Bayliss said the fraud was "cynical, deliberate and dishonest".

He told O'Mara: "I have concluded that, although Jared O'Mara was without doubt suffering from autism at the time of the offences, that does not reduce culpability.

"You, Jared O'Mara, 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.

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