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Sitting at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, a judge ruled that Mrs Abbott’s sentence be suspended for eighteen months, a decision Psychic News understands to have been based on the needs of a dependent child.
Timothy Abbott, 53, along with his 46-year-old wife, Jeanette, dishonestly obtained thousands of pounds in disability, housing and council tax benefits. Together the couple obtained a total of £170,000 during their 16-year spree at the tax-payer’s expense, including £35,496 in incapacity benefit for Mr Abbott plus £22,848 in disability living allowance.
During undercover investigations, Abbott was filmed lifting dumbbells, and using a rowing machine, exercise bike and treadmill. He pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of a change in circumstances.
The medium – who has continued to publicise his work as a demonstrator and teacher throughout the period of his arraignment and trial – also admitted defrauding HMRC of £9,532 by his failure to pay income tax or national insurance.
Jeanette Abbott also falsely claimed £19,477 in disability benefit and £713 in incapacity benefit, in addition to £1,000 in council tax benefit, the court was told. Investigators filmed her bending down and lifting a heavy bag while out shopping in 2012. She also failed to pay £37,000 worth of income support and conned Staffordshire County Council out of £44,000 in housing benefits.
Speaking after the hearing, a clearly shocked Mrs Abbott commented: “In our opinion the truth has not been fully told and we feel very unfairly treated.”
Truth “not been fully told?” That statement smacks distinctly of the pot calling the kettle black. The court saga of the Abbotts has dragged on interminably, delayed (we understand) on numerous occasions while the court awaited reports on various aspects of the case. Surely that was time enough for the Abbotts (or their legal representatives) to ensure that the truth was “fully told” by both prosecution and defence? If not, it says little for British justice!
As to being “unfairly treated”, Timothy and Jeanette Abbott have worked as Spiritualist mediums and speakers on church platforms throughout much of their long-term fraud. During that time they have stood to address numerous congregations on the merits of living a spiritual life, urging their listeners to live by the Seven Principles of Spiritualism, the fifth of which states: “Personal responsibility for all good and evil deeds done on earth”.
In short, their hypocrisy has been blatant to a breathtaking extent and has exposed Spiritualism to ridicule in the national press. Numerous comments have been posted on the websites of the Mail, Express, BBC and others, many of them seeming to suggest that if the Abbotts have been financially fraudulent, they have probably been fraudulent in other things.
“Not one, but two cons have been committed by these fraudsters. Cheating the gullable [sic] folk who actually believe there are such people who can talk to the dead, predict their future and tell them of their past lives AND charging them money for the scam! And in addition this cheating couple cheating the tax payer by claiming benefits they were NOT entitled to!” was just one of many examples from national newspaper website posts.
Psychic News in no way suggests that the Abbotts are fraudulent mediums. My point is that since Spiritualism all too often gets a rough ride from the mainstream press, the vast majority of our mediums, teachers and other workers do their utmost to operate with transparent integrity. The very public Abbott debacle has done nothing to assist the Spiritualist cause, or those many honourable workers, and has effectively handed an already sceptical public an additional stick to beat us with.
The Spiritualists’ National Union, of which both Abbotts have been long-term members and award holders, moved swiftly to condemn the couple’s actions in a briefly worded statement:
“The Spiritualists’ National Union condemns any form of illegal activity and encourages all Spiritualists to uphold the law.
“When Mr and Mrs Abbott were charged, the SNU, in accordance with its constitution, immediately suspended their membership. Now that they have been convicted it will be for the board of directors to make a permanent decision on their membership status.
“There will be a motion on the agenda of the next National Executive Committee meeting to remove their membership. The Abbotts will be invited to make either oral or written representation at this meeting prior to the decision being taken.”
Psychic News hopes that as a result of this meeting, the SNU will send a firm and uncompromising message to the public and the mainstream press: Those who drag Spiritualism into the gutter, and expose it to public ridicule by committing long-term crime, while preaching spiritual ethics from church platforms, have no place as representatives of Spiritualism.