Dene Betteridge – Black Lace singer jailed, but not for Agadoo…

Dene Betteridge – Black Lace singer jailed, but not for Agadoo…

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Photo from the BBC

Introduction 

Black Lace, the novelty pop music act who shot to fame in 1979 after representing the UK in the Eurovision song contest have been described as the “band with the least street credibility in the world“.

It may be that they will become a bit more ‘street’ after 27th June 2016 when their lead singer Dene Betteridge (stage name – Dene Michael) was sent down in the Crown Court for 6 months.

 

Factual Background

The offence is benefit fraud – not the most street of crimes admittedly.

Over a 2 year period from 2012 Mr Betteridge made a claim for ‘disability benefits’ (probably DLA, and its successor). In the application he stated, amongst other things that ‘he could not leave his home without assistance‘.

However, as lead singer of Black Lace his job involved ‘vigorous physical activity’.

He pleaded guilty to fraud earlier, as did his wife (to offences relating to her application for Carer’s Allowance). The total amount of the fraud was £25,000.

 

Sentence

The Judge would have started with the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud (page 27 for Benefit Fraud).

On the face of it, it was not a sophisticated offence, and so would have thought that it was a Category B4 one.

This gives a starting point of 9 months with a range from a Community Order up to 21 months.

Here, it looks like the Judge took the starting point of 9 months and gave full credit for the plea of guilty. The more interesting question is why it was not suspended (we’re assuming he is of good character, and many people in his position would get a Suspended Sentence).

The Judge said that she “saw no need to suspend Betteridge’s sentence.”

There may be an attempt to appeal, but although many Judges would have suspended this sentence, a decision to make it immediate is extremely unlikely to be successfully appealed.

As to Karen Betteringe? Although people often think that women get off lighter when it comes to sentencing (and they’re not completely wrong), here the sums involved were a lot less (£2,500) and so on the Guidelines it’s right at the very bottom of Category 5B (or possibly 5C). For that reason, the Community Order is exactly what we would expect.

 

Agadoo?

If you don’t know Agadoo, then you are pretty lucky. If you do, well you may be forgiven for thinking that this was an aggravating feature of the offending – previous bad character if you will – but it was written in the 1970s and recorded by Black Lace in 1984. Mr Betteridge did not join until 1986, and so can’t be held responsible.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The whole suspended sentence thing needs to be revised (IMO). We’re sending too many people to prison for short sentences which offer no real opportunity for rehabilitation, etc.

    If the default position for sentences of (lets say) less than 2 years for those people without previous convictions was to suspend it unless there is clear reason not to; then that would remove many people from the prison system. You would have to introduce a better monitoring and support system though … but as prison costs would be reduced that should be possible.

    • Agreed – it seems to almost be a coin toss whether someone gets the most serious possible type of punishment (not suspended), or less punishment than community service or a fine (suspended). Totally arbitrary.

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