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5 Oct 2014

Cheshunt woman's "landlord" was her partner

A Cheshunt woman has been given a suspended sentence and community service after being found guilty of benefit fraud amounting to £53,461. (h/t Ben)

At the same time, her partner was found guilty of dishonestly obtaining more than £30,000 from Broxbourne Council.

Jane Batty, 46, had been claiming benefits as an unemployed single parent renting privately from a “landlord” called Colin Wint, 46. However, she was actually in a relationship with Wint.

Batty applied for Income Support and later, Job Seeker’s Allowance, in addition to Housing and Council Tax Benefit, while Wint was receiving benefits as a single person.

In 2010, Broxbourne Borough Council received an anonymous tip-off that Batty was living with a partner by the name of Colin who was working full time as a chef in a London restaurant and receiving a substantial wage.

A joint investigation between the council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found sufficient links to suggest that Batty’s alleged partner was in fact Colin Wint, the owner of the property, who Batty had previously claimed was her landlord.

Evidence proved that the couple were actually living together at Dewhurst Road between February 2007 and March 2011.

As a result, the couple’s benefits were terminated.

During this period, Batty was paid £18,655 in Income Support and Job Seeker’s Allowance, and awarded £31,200 in Housing Benefit plus £3,606 Council Tax benefit from Broxbourne Borough Council - none of which she was entitled to.

The pair were interviewed under caution at the council offices, but declined to comment.

However, evidence showed that Wint was living at the same property during Batty’s benefit claims and it was also found that Wint was contributing financially to the household and paid large sums of money into an account in the name of Batty’s dependent son.

On 27 July 2012, at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court, Batty faced charges contrary to the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and Wint faced charges, contrary to the Theft Act 1968 for his part in the fraud. Both entered a not guilty plea and the matter was referred to St Albans Crown Court for trial.

On Friday, August 15 this year, after a two year wait, at St Albans Crown Court, Batty was found guilty of two charges of failing to declare a change of circumstances.

On the same day, Wint was found guilty of falsely representing in a tenancy agreement and dishonestly obtaining a money transfer totalling £31,645.26 from Broxbourne Borough Council by deception.

On Monday, September 22 Batty was sentenced to 32 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months with 140 hours community service and Wint was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months with 115 hours unpaid work.

Costs and confiscation will be determined in confiscation proceedings to be heard at a later date.

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