7 Nov 2017

Sad case, but still benefit fraud

A former RAF sergeant who claimed he and his wife were unemployed to collect thousands of pounds in housing benefit has escaped jail.

Father-of-three Kevin Chapman lied for 17 months to gain almost £15,000 after he struggled to provide for his family.

The 44-year-old and his teacher wife returned to Salisbury from Jersey in 2013 when her mother became ill but he was unable to secure a well-paid job. The couple’s finances began to spiral out of control and they mounted up £20,000 worth of credit card debt, despite owning a house which was earning them £750 a month in rent.

Salisbury Crown Court heard that Chapman filled out a form to claim housing benefit and council tax reduction stating that he and his wife were unemployed on August 19, 2013. Chapman knew that his wife was due to start work as a supply teacher on September 1 but he continued to state that they were both unemployed, even when he started work at Halfords on October 4. He also failed to declare that his wife owned a house in Larkhill but said the rental income just about paid the mortgage.

Prosecuting Andrew Stone said: “This was fraudulent from the outset. When he filled in the form on August 19 he said there was no property when in fact there was.”

The court heard that once Chapman started lying to the DWP it became difficult for him to say that he no longer needed the money.

Defending, Nigel Dyer said Chapman and his wife had split up due to the pressure of the case, and he was now sofa surfing. He said Chapman has taken a night manager position at Asda in Gillingham to be able to look after his children during the day. He added that Chapman was willing to pay money each month to pay off his debts.

Chapman had admitted two counts of fraud by false representation to gain £14,739.62 at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing him to nine months in prison suspended for 18 months, Judge Richard Parkes said that Chapman showed fraudulent behaviour from the outset to steal from the public purse.

“I am very sorry to hear you and your wife have split up from the pressure of this. I don’t imagine for a moment that you will offend again, it seems to me you have made a very serious mistake but because you were in serious financial trouble you have got yourself into more serious trouble.”

Judges Parkes also ordered Chapman to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay back £200 a month to the DWP for three years.


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