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17 Jan 2020

Repeat benefit cheat claimed for dead wife - prison again

A 71-year-old man fraudulently claimed almost £32,000 in benefits as his wife's carer while she actually lived in a residential home.

Norman Gill continued to receive benefits after she passed away, until someone anonymously told the authorities what was going on.

Gill had previously been handed a suspended prison sentence after using the public purse to pay the mortgage on his half-a-million pound house in Swansea by claiming to be penniless while in fact running two successful businesses.

He was back in court on Thursday for more benefit frauds, offences committed shortly after he was released from prison for failing to pay back money from the first scam.

Swansea Crown Court heard Gill's initial claim for carer's allowance and pension credits on the basis he was caring for his wife - who was suffering with MS - was legitimate.

However, when his wife's condition deteriorated and she moved into Swansea 's Hengoed Court residential home in March 2012, Gill continued to claim benefits he was not entitled to.

Tom Scapens, prosecuting, said over the course of the following years the defendant was sent regular letters reminding him of his obligation to notify the authorities about any change of benefits.

The barrister said in 2015 Gill was also asked to fill and return a pension credit form which specifically included a question about whether his partner was living in a care home, to which he had replied no.

The court heard Mrs Gill died in January 2018 but the defendant did not notify the authorities - it was only some three months later following the receipt of information from an anonymous source that checks were made with the care home, and the true situation was revealed.

Gill, from Langland, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of a change of circumstances when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

The court heard that in 2009 he had been sentenced to 48 weeks in prison suspended for two years for benefit fraud. This offending had seen him claiming benefits from Swansea Council and the DWP on the basis he was unemployed and had no income - in reality he ran Piaf Fashions, which made him around £90,000 a year, and was the boss of property firm NT Project Management, which provided an income of up to £3,500 per month through its portfolio of houses in Swansea and Port Talbot .

The court heard he had been ordered to pay back £200,000 from his ill-gotten gains from this fraud but after failing to do was was jailed for 10 months. That financial confiscation order is still in place.

John Allchurch, for Gill, said it had been a "stressful and distressing time" for the defendant as he watched the health of his wife of almost four decades deteriorating - but he accepted he should have told the authorities about the changes in circumstances.

The court heard Gill has been in an "on-off" relationship with a woman in London for the last seven years, but the advocate said he did not know the "minutiae" of that relationship.

Mr Allchurch said his client's house was currently on the market for some £700,000 but there were two large mortgages on the property - both in excess of £300,000 - and if it is sold, the combination of those plus the outstanding confiscation order will extinguish any equity in the property, and leave the defendant homeless and having to leave "Swansea west".

Judge Paul Thomas QC told Gill he had embarked on his fraudulent claim for carer benefits "within a relatively short period" of having served a prison sentence for falling to pay what he owed from the original fraud.

He said the "persistence" of the defendant's fraudulent activities meant immediate custody was appropriate, despite his age.

Gill was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison - he will serve half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

Source with pictures

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