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19 May 2015

Light sentence for immigrant benefit cheat

A mother of five who wrongly claimed more than £100,000 in benefit payments has been spared jail.

Despite only admitting her guilt halfway through her trial, the judge told Nazma Hoque (38) her guilty plea had been taken into consideration when handing out a suspended 12-month prison sentence. He didn’t order costs against her.

Hoque, of Sherwood Street, Oldham, had applied for Income Support, housing and council tax benefits in 2002 when she said her husband had deserted her.

Manchester Crown Court was told she had frequently been warned she was obliged to report changes in circumstances, but didn’t.

She had two more children by Shufiqul Hoque in 2003 and 2005, and they lived as man and wife in Sherwood Street, Oldham from at least 2007. One family member said she wasn’t even aware there had been a split.

An investigation was launched when Hoque contacted the the Department for Work and Pensions in 2012, reporting a reconciliation - four days after her sister-in-law had been arrested on suspicion of benefit fraud.

Judge Leslie Hull said: “That was an acknowledgement by you that you had dishonestly claimed benefits by not telling the relevant authorities your husband had returned to you.”

The inquiry revealed a paper trail of official letters and documents linking delivery driver and waiter Mr Hoque to the Sherwood Street house.

Nazma Hoque pleaded not guilty benefit fraud and failing to inform changes in her circumstances at her trial in March. The proceedings halted when, on the day her defence was due to begin, she admitted the two counts of failing to notify changes.

Hoque received £103,000 over a decade. Had she been honest she would have been eligible for around £59,000 - making her liable for almost £44,000.

Judge Hull told her if she hadn’t changed her pleas, and had been convicted, she would have been jailed.

Hoque, who came to Britain for an arranged marriage in 1994 and struggles to understand English, said she had dishonoured herself and her family.

Well, she managed to live with that for ten years.

Her children aged between nine and 19 are said to have been badly affected by her trial and publicity surrounding it.

She will be subject to a nightly curfew for four months and has been ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work. An application for £10,000 costs against her was adjourned indefinitely.

Source - and outraged comments

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She had 2 more children after husband 'left'. Is it too much too ask that Income Support query this? Ask for a birth certificate perhaps?

I see this a lot. Limit benefits to 2 children.