‘Not even Da Easy Crew can get you out of this one’: Creator of children’s TV character Rastamouse, 64, avoids prison for £9,000 benefit fraud after judge’s eight-year-old DAUGHTER tells him not to jail the author
- Michael de Souza, 64, fraudulently claimed nearly £10,000 in benefits
- Penned Rastamouse books about rodent who solves mysteries with reggae band
- Judge told de Souza his daughter, 8, was a fan of Rastamouse and ‘Da Easy Crew’
- But the judge joked in court: ‘Not even Da Easy Crew can get him out of this one’
Michael de Souza – pictured with his character Rastamouse – has been found guilty to benefit fraud but avoided jail
The benefits cheat author of the children’s book Rastamouse has avoided a jail sentence today after the judge told him his daughter was a fan of his work.
Michael de Souza penned the series of books about a rodent who solves mysteries with his reggae band, ‘Da Easy Crew.’
He create the series in 2003 and it was turned into a CBeebies TV show in 2011 voiced by Reggie Yates.
The 64-year-old wrongly claimed some £3,581.90 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and £5,186.12 in housing benefit between January and December 2017, while failing to declare his income from his writing.
But he avoided prison today after the judge’s daughter told her father not to put him behind bars.
Judge Christopher Hehir instead ordered him to complete 160 hours of community service.
As he sentenced him at Southwark Crown Court, the judge joked: ‘Not even Da Easy Crew can get him out of this one.’
The Easy Crew; Scratchy, Rastamouse, Zoomer from the television programme written by Michael de Souza
Trinidad-born De Souza admitted two charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances
De Souza, a Rastafarian, left his native Trinidad to join his parents in London in 1960.
Christopher Joseph Hehir told the court his daughter was a fan of Rastamouse
He spent 15 years teaching swimming and working with children, which inspired him to pursue a career in writing.
He worked as a swimming instructor in Kensington, teaching the children of celebrities including Stella McCartney and Sir Richard Branson.
The judge told de Souza: ‘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 admitted the offences at Southwark Crown Court the judge said: ‘Not even Da Easy Crew can get him out of this one.
Judge apologises to rape victim
In 2016 Judge Christopher Hehir made a personal apology to the victim of a former children’s home worker and Catholic priest who sexually abused him.
Philip Temple, 67, sexually assaulted 12 boys and a girl between 1971 and 1977 when he worked for Lambeth and Wandsworth borough councils.
When he was finally brought to justice and jailed for 12 years, Judge Hehir told the man, who said he was abused as a teenager when Temple was a priest: ‘I am sorry justice was not done when you came to court in 1998 and 1999.’
‘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.’
De Souza has now sold the rights to the character and accrued debt following a number of failed business ventures, the court heard.
De Souza, from Westbourne Park, west London, initially denied the charges against him.
But he later admitted two charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances between December 2016 and December 2017.
He claimed he had ‘not really faced up to his fraud’ because his writing was such an irregular source of income.