17 Feb 2016

73-year old benefit thief spared prison

A pensioner fraudster who cheated the taxpayer out of more than £28,000 has been spared a trip to jail because he is 73.

Henry Hansen's initial claim for state benefits had been honest when he started it in 2004, Rachael Landin told York Crown Court in prosecution. But he failed to tell benefit officers about his wife starting work in 2005 and from then on for nine years, he claimed and received benefits under false pretences.

As a result, he received £28,743 he was not entitled to before the Department of Work and Pensions realised what was happening and prosecuted him.

Hansen, from Swinton near Malton, pleaded guilty to two charges of benefit fraud involving pension credits, housing benefit and council tax benefit. Scarborough magistrates sent him to York Crown Court as they considered their powers of sentence to be insufficient.

The Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC, gave him a 12-month prison sentence, but suspended it for two years because of Hansen's age.

He said: "You are now of an age where really you are far too old to be doing this sort of thing. You are well into your seventies, and here you are admitting fraudulent obtaining of benefits."

Hansen's solicitor advocate Kristian Cavanagh did not give any mitigation after the judge indicated that he would suspend the prison sentence.

The court heard the benefit agency will reclaim the money and that Hansen's wife had worked at Malton Hospital.

Miss Landin told the court that Hansen had claimed to benefit officers that two treasurers at his wife's place of work had told him he did not need to declare her work to the agency and that he had telephoned the agency about the issue. But the prosecution had evidence that contradicted both claims.


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