A dad told his boss that his young son had died then pocketed a collection raised by his sympathetic workmates, who later discovered the boy was alive.
Luke Holmes’ "sick" and "disgusting" lie unravelled when his colleagues checked his wife’s Facebook page and found a message saying she was “so proud of both her children”.
The 28-year-old had sent a text message to his boss saying his son’s body “had simply shut down” after claiming the youngster was in Leeds General Infirmary with pneumonia.
He received £1,332 in wages, faked a doctor’s note to support his claim that he could not work due to bereavement and pocketed £120 from colleagues who gave him a sympathy card.
Dad-of-two Holmes, who was struggling financially, had claimed his elder son one had died as part of the deception, Leeds Crown Court heard.
The “disgusting offence” was uncovered when his employers became suspicions and carried out an investigation. That’s when they checked his wife’s Facebook profile.
Holmes, from Leeds, walked free from court after being given a suspended sentence.
Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said Holmes committed the offences between November 2016 and January 2017, shortly after he started working at Unicam AV Ltd.
Mr Ahmed said Holmes sent a text message to his manager on November 26, 2016, saying his elder child was in hospital.
He said he could not come into work as he had to look after his younger son.
The defendant sent another text two days later claiming the boy was still in hospital receiving treatment.
The prosecutor said: “On December 1 he sent a text message to his manager saying that, at 3.15am, his son had died – his body had simply shut down.
“He said that he would be in work on Monday as he really needed the money and couldn’t afford any more time off work.
“He said his son had died of pneumonia.
“His manager, both personally and on behalf of the company were sympathetic and exchanged messages of condolence.”
Holmes was told not to come into work and arrangements were made to pay his wages as usual.
The defendant sent a message on December 5, 2016, saying he was planning his son’s funeral.
Three days later his manager sent Holmes a message informing him that his colleagues had collected £120 for him and had got his family a sympathy card.
Holmes insisted on coming in to work the next day to collect the money and took his younger son with him.
The prosecutor said: “Various acts of sympathy were extended towards him and he left with the money.”
Holmes’s manager text him on January 3, 2017, asking if he would be coming back to work but received no reply.
The manager later received a text message purporting to be from Holmes’s grandmother, claiming that his December 2016 wage had not been paid into the bank.
The message stated Holmes could not personally respond to the text as he had gone to a “counselling session”.
Holmes was asked to send a bank statement to support his claim but did not send one.
His employer told him that they could not authorise his January 2017 wage without a sick note.
Mr Ahmed said: “Within a very short period of time his sick note arrived. It was not signed by a doctor.”
The deception came to light when checks were made with Holmes’s GP surgery.
His employers also checked with the coroner’s office and obituary columns but could find no record of the child’s death.
Holmes’s lie was confirmed when his wife’s Facebook comments about her children were found to have been made on January 13, 2017.
Holmes was sacked but e-mailed the company claiming they had made a “false allegation” about him.
He sent a further message saying he wanted a chance to pay the money back to “end this really messy situation.”
Holmes pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud.
His boss provided a statement to the court, stating: “I find him telling people his son has died when he hasn’t is sick."
Holmes has a previous conviction for fraud in 2013 relating to an eBay scam worth £60,000.
The court heard the defendant now has a job maintaining arcade machines.
Stephen Grattage, mitigating, said Holmes committed the offences when his family was struggling financially and his wife was suffering from depression.
He said: “It was such a brazen but obvious lie.
“Rather than going to the benefits agency he made up this lie. Once that horrific lie was made, things catapulted from there.
“He is deeply ashamed of that and understands that the court will want to punish him severely for it.”
Mr Grattage said the defendant was able to re-pay the money in full.
He added that Holmes’s wife and children would suffer if he was jailed.
Holmes was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
He must also pay Unicam AV Ltd £1,457 in compensation.
Recorder Greame Cook said: “There can be no worse lie than suggesting to other people that a child of yours is ill and dies.
“It is bound to bring human emotions in to play.
“This is an awful disgusting offence you have committed.”
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