Birmingham man jailed for continuing to claim benefits after returning to Syria

Bashir Souliman Credit: BPM Media

A man from Birmingham who continued to claim thousands of pounds in benefits after returning to his home town in Syria has been jailed.

Bashir Souliman claimed £10,801 over a period of eight months after returning to Homs where he alleged he was kidnapped by rebels.

On his return to the Midlands he was interviewed by investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions and charged with benefit fraud offences.

Mr Souliman appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to three charges including; failure to notify the DWP of a change in his circumstances, fraudulently claiming housing benefits and fraudulently claiming child tax credits.

Mr David Devine, prosecuting on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, said Souliman had been living in Capstone Avenue, Hockley, until January 2014 when he flew to Syria.

He said: “Mr Souliman says he planned to go out to Syria for four weeks but was kidnapped on January 30, 2014 and held captive until October 5. He then flew back to the UK on October 8."

“In the meantime the National Benefit Fraud Hotline had received a tip off with regards to Mr Souliman. He was investigated and interviewed and benefits fraud charges were brought against him.”

Geraldine Toal, defending Mr Souliman said had lived a tough existence and had been made homeless in Syria after his home was bombed.

His wife and two children were living in a refugee camp in the war-torn country and she said he returned to Syria to see his family.

“His children had come over to the UK but couldn’t live without their mother so returned to the country. There are many issues in Syria and opposing factions and threats have been made to his family. He only planned to stay in Syria for four weeks but while he was there he said he was held captive and money was exchanged for his release."

“He had been living in the UK for 16 years and had periods of work."

“He had been sending money back to his family in Syria. At this moment in time he isn’t claiming benefits but works in a pizza shop.”

Bashir Souliman has been given seven months behind bars and is to be supervised in the community for a further 12 months following his release.