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5 May 2017

Woman said she didn't know father owned the house she was 'renting'

Talk about an unbelievable story.

A benefit cheat who claimed she did not know the home she lived in for five years was owned by her father has been given a two year suspended prison sentence.

Kerry Donoghue, formerly of Mill Way, Bushey was sentenced to two years in custody suspended for 21 months when she appeared at St Albans Crown Court. The 32-year-old was also ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work, pay £1500 within 18 months in compensation to the council and has been put under a 12 months' supervision order. In addition, the judge imposed a six month curfew which restricts Donoghue's movements between 8pm and 6am.

Donoghue, who dishonestly claimed more than £40,000 worth of housing benefit over five years, had been found guilty of two counts of making a false representation and four counts of furnishing a false document at an earlier hearing.

During the trial, the jury heard that she had provided council officers with a false tenancy agreement which included misleading details about her landlord. An investigation by Hertsmere Borough Council later revealed the house had been bought by her father, Troy Donoghue, for £230,000 seven days before Donoghue moved in.

Sajida Bijle, the council's corporate director, said: “This case should serve as a sharp warning to potential benefit cheats that they too could end up living under the threat of a long custodial sentence. Ultimately Donoghue's actions have not only had an impact on herself, she has put other people who she knows and has involved unwittingly in her web of deceit at risk of prosecution. The wider community have also lost out as its through their taxes, fraudsters, like Donoghue, have funded their lifestyles. If you suspect someone may be fraudulently claiming benefits to help with their tenancy or council tax or have fraudulently applied for a blue badge, contact us straightaway.”

Between 26 November 2008 and 31 March 2014, Donoghue claimed £43,426.40 in housing benefit.

Donoghue told the court she paid rent to her landlord in cash on the 1st of every month. However, no deposit was paid and there are no records of the rent payments.

Following a tip-off from the Department of Work and Pensions, council officers established the property was purchased by Mr Donoghue on 14 November 2008. His daughter moved in on 22 November 2008.

Donoghue claimed not to have had any contact with her father since she was 15 and that she was unaware he owned the property.

However, prosecutors insisted that was not the case and argued Donoghue had provided false tenancy agreements in order to disguise the fact she was living in her father’s property.

Source

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