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23 Dec 2017

Pensioner gets away with long term benefit fraud

A benefit cheat who pocketed more than £72,000 he was not entitled to by pretending he was not married has been spared jail.

Pensioner Louis Bell claimed state handouts for 15 years or more on the basis he was a single man, failing to mention he had a wife who was working.

A court heard the accepts his actions were “despicable” but says it started off due to his debts then he felt he “couldn’t get out of the hole he was in”.

The 69-year-old is remorseful, apologetic and has started paying back his ill-gotten gains, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

Now Bell has been given a suspended sentence and was made subject to a six month curfew meaning he has to stay in his home at night.

Nick Lane, prosecuting, said: “Over the course of the life of the payments, there were a number of occasions when he was required to make new claims or confirm his details. He failed to declare he was in fact a married man and his wife was in receipt of a salary. He said his daughter lived with him but made no admission his wife was living there. Evidence showed she worked 24 hours a week and they were living together. The fraud was clearly fraudulent from the outset and he had numerous opportunities to set this right which he did not do.”

The court heard Bell began claiming income support in 2000 on the basis he was a single man with no other source of income and this continued until 2008, when he reached retirement age. From then until 2016 he got pension credit on the basis he was a single man. Also, from 2000 to 2008, he was receiving housing benefit and council tax benefit from Sunderland Council.

Recorder Anthony Kelbrick told him: “For a long time you have been utterly dishonest and fraudulently claimed benefit and have deprived the public purse of £72,806 by your dishonesty. The only question I have to decide is whether or not, in the circumstances of your offending, it would be right to suspend the sentence of imprisonment. There are many judges sitting in this court who would simply say they would not even consider suspending such a sentence, despite your age and previous good character. In this case I am prepared to suspend the sentence.”

Bell, from Sunderland, admitted four benefit fraud charges and was sentenced to 20 months suspended for 12 months with a six month curfew between 7pm and 7am.

The court heard he has started paying back the money at a rate of £330 a month.

Jennifer Coxon, defending, said: “He is a well thought of father and husband and will do anything for his family to ensure they are supported. In 2000 there was a sense of desperation as he was in financial difficulties. He fully accepts this was an unlawful and despicable thing to do. It was out of sheer desperation to ensure he didn’t lose his family and property. He used the money to keep him afloat, for his debts and the mismanagement of his finances.

“After his interview with the DWP he felt such a sense of relief. He explained he couldn’t get out of the hole he was in. He didn’t appreciate the help that could have been offered from other services to manage his debts. He is now in a position where he is no longer in debt. He has to deal with the shame. His family are now fully aware of what he has done and are shocked at his behaviour.

“He wholeheartedly apologises to everyone involved.”

Source

He got away with that, didn't he. 

I wonder where his family thought the money was coming from?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 2000, he didn't reach retirement age, he was 60. He'd been claiming Income Support since he was 52, when did he last work?

This 69 year old cant go clubbing anymore with that curfew!