On 16th June 2014 Louise Pollard, a 28 year old Bristol woman, was jailed for three and a third years for fraud. It was a particular unpleasant one, and provides a good example of a case where the sentencing guidelines don’t apply.
There are more details in the local newspapers if you want to read up on it. In brief, she dealt with couples who were struggling to have children and offered to be a surrogate for them. She would pretend to have inseminated herself and provide a positive pregnancy test from a friend. After a period of time she then pretended to miscarry.
In total she obtained about £12,500 before suspicions were raised and the couples went to the police.
This is a confidence fraud. Looking at the guidelines for this, it is in the 4th column (under £20,000 with a starting point of £10,000). It falls most easily into “Single fraudulent transaction confidence fraud involving targeting of a vulnerable victim” for a starting point of 6 weeks with a range of a Community Order up to 6 months in prison. It could be in the category above – “confidence fraud characterised by a degree of planning and/or multiple transactions” with a starting point of 18 months and a range going from 6 months to 3 years.
It seems that the Judge gave full credit, which would indicate a starting point of 5 years – far above what the guidelines would indicate. So, does that mean that there will be an appeal?
Well, whilst there might be one, we doubt it would be successful. In this case, the substance of the fraud is such as to take it outside of the usual range and the Judge was entitled to start with a much higher sentence than if it had been £12,500 taken from a bank for example.
Is surrogacy legal?
Surrogacy is perfectly legal. The issue over whether someone can be paid for it can get a bit murky. s2 Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 makes it an offence for this to be a commercial arrangement. It is perfectly lawful for the reasonable expenses to be covered however.
It is unclear whether there have ever been any prosecutions under the Act.