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4 Jul 2013

Jail for £82k benefit thief and her partner

A woman has been jailed for ten months after fraudulently claiming nearly £82,000 in benefits.

Her partner was jailed for six months for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The pair were prosecuted by Wellingborough Council in a unique case.

Angela Passfield, 53, declared she lived alone in a house she rented from Edward Conroy, 50, in Warren Close, Irchester.

She claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit between 2003 and 2012 at the address.

A tip off suggested that Passfield and fully-employed Conroy were partners living together and had been since he purchased the house in 2003.

The information was confirmed after investigations and observation work by the council and the Department for Work and Pensions and both Passfield and Conroy were interviewed under caution at Wellingborough Council’s offices.

Conroy initially denied he and Passfield were partners and produced a rent book he claimed was from 2008 to show Passfield paid for the room.

It was revealed the book had not been published until 2011, meaning the entries he filled in for rent payments were forged.

Both pleaded guilty to all charges in May and were sentenced at Northampton Crown Court.

Council leader Paul Bell, said:
This is a unique situation as we were able to prosecute both Passfield, who claimed the benefits, and Conroy, who forged documents in an attempt to cover up the crime.

This has never happened before as trying to prosecute anyone other than the actual claimant is very difficult.

We are obviously really pleased with the result and hope that it is a warning to people – both those making false claims as well as the partners behind them who also benefit from the crimes – that we will not tolerate anyone attempting to cheat the system. We will find them and we will prosecute them.

There are a lot of people in our borough, honest people, who are struggling to make ends meet and benefit fraud puts an extra burden on our taxpayers during these tough times.
Passfield claimed £39,309.21 in income support, £36,514.01 in housing benefit and £6,095.27 in council tax benefit between 2003-12.

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