A former Thornton teacher has today vowed to clear his name after being found guilty of a £7,000 fraud.
Paul Davidson has been unemployed for five years, and was found to have made fraudulent claims for benefits, having not notified the Department of Work and Pensions and Blackpool Council that he was living with a former girlfriend.
Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard Davidson, who worked as a maths and IT teacher at Millfield High School for 10 years, was paid £7,348 in Council Tax benefits and Job Seekers Allowance while living with a woman at his home on Antrim Road, Blackpool.
Despite his conviction, Davidson, 45, denies he was co-habiting with the woman, and lodged an appeal as soon as the case ended.
He also refused to pay £200 court costs.
After Wednesday’s sentencing, he said: “I have been branded a fraudster, and I will not accept that.
“This has been an absolute nightmare year and my health has suffered greatly.
“I’ve had no end of hardship and have been surviving only on loans from my family and we’re talking tens of thousands of pounds which needs to be paid back.”
Davidson met the woman when she was a 14-year-old schoolgirl, and he and his ex-wife were providing private tuition.
Years later, after a brief relationship, she was seen by Davidson’s neighbours going to and from his home, and her washing was seen drying on his washing line.
During the three-day trial, the court heard the care worker and part-time singer’s letters regarding an insurance claim were addressed to her at Antrim Road, and that Davidson helped her with the insurance claim and shared money with her as a result.
Her car was declared off the road at his address, and the pair went on holiday to Lanzarote together.
Defending himself during the trial, Davidson said: “I completely refute co-habiting.
“I am the victim of malevolent hearsay. I am living on the poverty line. I am destitute.”
Davidson was found guilty of making a fraudulent claim for benefits and two offences of failing to notify of a change in his circumstances.
Sentencing him, Deputy District Judge Joanne Hirst said: “You defrauded the public purse the victims are the ordinary tax payers.
“I accept you did not do it to fund a lavish lifestyle but there is overwhelming evidence that you co-habited.”
She ordered Davidson to pay £200 costs made him subject to a two-year conditional discharge.
Davidson said: “I don’t think you have understood a word I have said. I am a victim of siege tactics.
“I have intention of paying one penny. I will appeal.”
The court heard Davidson had asked the woman involved to consider contributing to the household bills, and how he would take her to and from work, where she described him to colleagues as her boyfriend or partner.