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21 Nov 2013

Stephen Sussams back in the news

We've met Stephen Sussams before, here and here.

Now it turns out the rogue still has his Croydon council house.
(h/t Dave)

The lumbering local authority lamely blames what it calls legal issues.

A Bentley-driving welfare cheat who pocketed £32,000 in benefits while running a gourmet gastropub in Devon is still living in his council flat in Croydon, almost a year after being jailed.

Stephen Sussams, 60, of Upper Norwood, was convicted of fraud in December after stealing £17,600 in care payments from a dead man's bank account and claiming £14,625 housing and council tax benefit from Croydon Council, despite being landlord of a pub in Dartmouth which once claimed to sell the most expensive burger in the world.

The conman's lavish lifestyle also saw him own a secluded hilltop villa in Spain, where he also ran a bar. The house has since been repossessed by the Spanish Government.

But Sussams still remains in his Marston Way home, initially rented from the council at a reduced rate because it believed he was financially struggling, despite breaching his tenancy agreement when he was convicted of four fraud charges and theft.

The council launched eviction proceedings in June, following Sussams's release from jail, but blamed "legal issues" for the delay.

Sussams, who maintains he did nothing wrong, plans to fight eviction in court.

He said:
They have taken me to court and I have done my time in prison. All I would say is, how many times do I need to be punished? I was claiming money I shouldn't have had but I wasn't doing it deliberately.
Sussams had been a live-in carer for the flat's previous resident, elderly Keith Dickenson, until his death in 2008.

He then continued to withdraw carer payments made to Mr Dickenson by Croydon Council, which did not realise he had died.

Sussams claims he thought the money was a pension from Peter Stringfellow, who he said had employed Mr Dickenson.

He also deliberately hid his businesses - included the Royal Dart pub in the English Riveria, where diners could buy £125 champagne and truffle burgers - from the council, enabling him to pocket housing and council tax benefit.

Following his conviction, council investigators learned Sussams led a second secret double life in southern Spain, where he owned a €180,000 villa and ran a bar while claiming housing benefit in Croydon.

Sussams, who was the subject to a BBC Panoroma investigation, suffers diabetes, obesity and heart disease and claims his disability entitled him to council housing.

He said: "It seems pointless to evict me because they will have to rehouse me anyway."

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