A Bedfordshire man who posed as a Mckenzie friend to receive more than £5,000 from clients has been jailed for three years.

Martin Williamson advertised his services on the internet to people denied legal aid who were involved in legal cases involving their children or grandchildren.

The victims would pay Williamson, from Biggleswade, a fee upfront, and he would claim to have worked on their case by applying for court orders, arranging court dates, contacting former partners and their legal firms and liaising with social services and the Child Support Agency. In fact he had done none of this.

Williamson, 36, faced 22 separate charges at Luton Crown Court following an investigation by Central Bedfordshire Council with assistance from Scam Busters.

The offences took place between December 2012 and April 2014 and continued even after he was released on bail having been interviewed by police in August 2013.

The court heard that Williamson’s actions had included producing a fake court order which he claimed would prevent a relative taking the child out of school, producing a fake CRB check after a victim paid for a relative’s background to be investigated and creating a false child psychologist to extort payments from another victim.

The council also found Williamson had not declared three different jobs and received £3,517 of benefits to which he was not entitled.

Sentencing Williamson, His Honour Judge Stuart Bridge said: ’Your actions were callous and premeditated. You attracted people who were unable to obtain legal support due to cuts in legal aid. You deliberately sought these people out. Once you had been paid you broke their trust.’

After pleading guilty at Luton Crown Court in March to 15 trading standards offences relating to family law and in May 2015 further pleading guilty to one count involving fraudulent sale of a laptop and six counts of benefit fraud, Williamson was sentenced on Wednesday last week.