28 Feb 2015

Benefit cheat hid inheritance & pension

A hospital car volunteer swindled £36,000 in housing benefits by hiding an inheritance and pension in secret bank accounts.

David Yarde claimed housing and council tax benefits on his home in Bideford, North Devon, for seven years when he had so much money in the accounts that he was not entitled to a penny.

He started making his claims honestly but sent Torridge District Council a series of false declarations after he inherited £39,000 from his mother in 2006.

He also failed to tell officials he had received a £25,000 lump sum and a £360 a month private pension because they also mode him ineligible for the benefits.

Yarde, aged 62, of Victoria Garden, Bideford, admitted five counts of fraud and was jailed for six months, suspended for a year and ordered to do 40 hours community payback by Recorder Mr Ignatius Hughes, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

He was also told to pay £1,115 in costs in addition to the money which he is repaying to the council at £169 per month.

The judge told him: "This was a calculated decision to conceal these windfalls and it was greedy and dishonest. You went into it with open eyes and kept the money away from the authorities by using accounts from which these sums were distributed to you. I accept you did not live the high life but these are times when the government is restricting state assistance to all sorts of people and you were topping up your income at the expense of those who are entitled to it and that is very wrong.”

Ian Graham, for the prosecution, said Yarde claimed benefits from 2006 to 2013, during which time he repeatedly declared his assets to be less than £4,000.

He said during that time he inherited £39,000 from his mother and received a £25,000 lump sum when he partially cashed in a pension. He paid the money into an undeclared account which enabled him to hide if from the council and continue claiming benefits.

Eleanor Purkis, for the defence, said Yarde would be able to carry on repaying the money if he was not sent to jail and has taken work as a newspaper boy to increase his income.

She said he also works as a volunteer driver for patients for which he is only paid expenses.

Miss Purkis said Yarde had not lived the high life with the money but had used it to make ends meet and is now in serious financial difficulties.


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