RASTAMOUSE CREATOR Michael de Souza has been sentenced for benefits fraud, totalling more than £8,000.
The 64-year-old behind the children’s book and hit controversial CBeebies show plead guilty at Southwark Crown Court yesterday (Sept 9), admitting he had “not grasped the nettle” of telling the authorities about his other sources of income.
Prosecutor Sasha Queffurus said De Souza wrongly claimed £3,581.90 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and £5,186.12 in housing benefit between January and December 2017, while failing to declare his other income.
Dickon Edwards, who represented de Souza, said the benefits helped him make “ends meet” as swimming coaching and speaking at the occasional book fair was “a very irregular source of income”.
Edwards continued: “He didn’t grasp the nettle and turn his mind to his requirements to notify parties as to his change of circumstances. He expressed remorse for that.”
As a result, Judge Christopher Hehir sentenced de Souza to 160 hours of community service. He said: “It is a great shame that a man of your undoubted talents, which I’ve been able to observe for myself through the medium of the TV show Rastamouse, finds himself before the crown court for a matter of this sort.”
After de Souza entered his guilty pleas, the judge said: “Not even Da Easy Crew can get him out of this one. I’ve got young children and I used to be a fan of Rastamouse. I did tell my eight-year-old daughter, who was a big fan when she was younger, that Mr De Souza was appearing before me, and she wasn’t keen on a custodial sentence.”
He added: “For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t usually run sentences past my young children.”