‘It was foolish optimism’, says tax dodger fined for pretending to be a student

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A paramedic who pretended to be a student to get out of paying council tax has been prosecuted for fraud.

In February this year Aaron Errington, 21, applied to be exempt from being taxed while he was living at St Helena Avenue in Newton Leys.

It was backed by a letter supposedly from his then employer, the ambulance service.

By law full-time students are exempt from paying Council Tax and although Mr Errington’s job title was student paramedic, he was a full time employee.

City magistrates heard on Friday that the documentation provided to the council in support of his exemption application was in fact a letter of employment, which had been altered for the purposes of obtaining an exemption.

Further investigation with the ambulance service revealed key differences between the original letter and the altered one.

He declined two opportunities to come in and be interviewed and on Friday Mr Errington, who now lives in Cheshire, appeared before city magistrates to admit one offence under Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006.

He was sentenced to a fine of £35, prosecution and investigation costs of £180 and a victim surcharge of £20. The court heard that he had resigned from his job.

In court Mr Errington stated that it had been a case of “foolish optimism” rather than a calculated fraud.

A spokesperson for the council’s Corporate Anti-Theft Team said: “Whilst no money was lost on this occasion, this is quite a common problem, with people claiming exemption from paying Council Tax because of their alleged student status.

“We could be looking at thousands of pounds of Council Tax payments going missing, which is clearly not fair on those people who do pay up on time.”