27 Sep 2013

No jail for £76k benefit thief as she's 75

A 75-year-old benefits cheat who claimed £76,000 she was not entitled to has been spared jail because of her age. (h/t Dave)

Evelyn Hickman wept with relief in the dock at Leicester Crown Court after hearing she was not going to be immediately locked up.

Judge Michael Pert QC said:
I'm not going to send a 75-year-old woman to prison for 20 months. It's your age – and age alone – that justifies suspending the sentence. You committed a large number of offences of cheating the housing benefits system over a 12-year period, in a scheme that was dishonest from the outset. You had many opportunities to change your ways and instead you took many opportunities to perpetrate the frauds that cost the rest of us more than £75,000.
The 20-month prison sentence was suspended for two years.

Hickman was ordered to pay £1,500 court costs.

Hickman, from Syston, admitted 12 counts of housing benefit fraud from 1999.

Kate Rogers, prosecuting, said the defendant claimed £46,748 in housing benefits in relation her home address, falsely claiming it was rented accommodation and failing to tell the authorities she and her husband jointly owned it outright.

In another fraud, she obtained £29,340 housing benefits, by falsely declaring her grandson was a tenant in a property in Stanier Drive, Rushey Mead, Leicester, that was owned by her husband – when the grandson owned it.

The defendant and her husband bought the Stanier Drive property in 2009, which they still own.

Miss Rogers said: "In interview, she admitted it was fraudulent from the outset, saying her husband couldn't read or write and she sometimes forged his signature."

Dominic Thomas, mitigating, said Hickman was repaying the money at £200 a month.

He said the defendant was the primary carer for her grandson, who has mental health difficulties, and relied upon her.

By this account the defendant was the only mentally capable person involved. Hopefully there's a charging order on both the houses so that we can get money back.

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