29 Apr 2016

Jail for repeat benefit fraud

A benefits cheat who fraudulently claimed more than £100,000 said he was "virtually unable to walk" when he had a full-time job. (h/t Dave)

Stanley Murray, 56, who successfully appealed to have his disability benefits increased, also claimed he was "unable to prepare a cooked meal". But as well as holding down his day job, "preparing and hanging" doors on vehicles, he also worked as a guitarist in the evenings.

Murray claimed a total of £112,078.18 in disability living allowance, income support, and housing and council tax benefits in a seven-year fraud.

Jailing him for a year at Hull Crown Court, Recorder Darren Preston told him:
That is a very large amount of public money that you took, and in these times of public austerity, honest and decent taxpayers are entitled to believe, or at least hope, that their taxes are going to essential public services, or to people who desperately need it and can't work, not to line your trousers and go into your pockets when you are perfectly capable of work.
Murray, who admitted four counts of failing to notify a change in his circumstances, and one of making a false representation, committed the offences between March 10, 2008, and June 22, last year.

Prosecutor Stephen Robinson said when Murray appealed to get a higher rate of disability benefit, he said he was "virtually unable to walk", and was "unable to prepare a cooked meal for one person". Five days after receiving the increased benefit, he started a full-time job at Paneltex Ltd. Mr Robinson said it was "a physical job to a certain extent".

When arrested and interviewed by police, Murray, who suffered a brain aneurysm more than ten years ago, said he "wanted to save money for his family as he thought he would die at any moment, and wanted them to have money for his funeral and other bills. He said he couldn't cook a meal because he didn't know how to cook," Mr Robinson said.

Murray, of Crayford Close, east Hull, was jailed for 12 months in the 1990s for obtaining property by deception and false accounting, which related to benefits fraud. He also received an "administrative penalty" when he had "worked briefly with a band as a guitarist", but this was not a criminal conviction, the court heard.

You'd think this might have put the benefits administration on enquiry. But evidently no.

Ian Brook, for Murray, said he played the guitar with his son for "therapy". Murray had decided to take the Paneltex job after attending a back-to-work interview.

He told the judge: "In my submission, many people would have said, 'I'm not going back to work. I'm going to stay at home holding out my hand and take money from the state'. He did seek to be a contributing member of society."

The judge said: "Most people would have gone back to work and told the authorities."

Mr Brook said Murray was remorseful and was "truly sorry for his family" as he had brought shame on them. The amount the authorities were seeking to recover was £103,000, but he did not seek an adjournment to contest the prosecution's figures.

Murray had so far repaid £421.13, the court heard.


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