02 May 2012
Benefit Fraud cases prosecuted
On Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Thursday 26 April Huntingdon Magistrates dealt with a number of allegations of benefit fraud following investigations conducted by Huntingdonshire District Council.
On Monday 23 April, Sally Brudenell (48) and David Pollard (56), both formerly of Westfield Road, Ramsey and now residing in Sussex, were convicted in their absence when they failed to attend a hearing in October 2011. The couple had been traced to Sussex and arrested on 30 March 2012.
The court heard that Brudenell had claimed benefit at 29 Westfield Road, Ramsey in February 2010 as an unemployed single parent. Following her claims an allegation was received by the council’s Fraud Team that a David Pollard also lived at the address and worked full time. Enquiries showed that David Pollard was resident and in full time work although the couple both denied any wrongdoing in interviews with council investigators. When the Brudenell’s benefit was re-calculated it was found that £3,509 had been overpaid in housing and council tax benefit and income support between February and June 2010.
The couple were summonsed to attend Huntingdon Magistrates on a number of occasions in 2011, but they failed to attend any hearings and their case was eventually heard in their absence on 4 October 2011. The case against them was proved based on the evidence collected by the council. In sentencing Brudenell the chair of the bench said that although this was not the most serious case of benefit fraud that had been before the bench, the couple’s continued failure to declare Pollards residence, and lack of admissions when they had an opportunity, aggravated the offending.
Brudenell, who had no previous convictions, received a 12 month Community Order with a requirement to undertake 120 hours unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay compensation to the council of £2,423, and costs of £240. Pollard was told that his sentence was deferred as he is due to change employment, and the Magistrates wanted to know his new details in full before sentencing. His case was adjourned to 23 July 2012.
On Tuesday 24 April Jon Palmer (40), pleaded guilty to three charges of benefit fraud whilst living at Marlborough Close, St Ives. The Court heard that Palmer had made claims for housing and council tax benefit and Job Seekers’ allowance in 2009, 2010 and 2011, at all times declaring he was an unemployed single man. He failed to declare that he had worked for two companies, one in 2010 and a second in 2011. Following information received by the council, investigations showed that Palmer was paying National Insurance contributions through an employer whilst claiming benefits declaring he was unemployed. He was overpaid £4,011 in various benefits between 2010 and 2011. Palmer was ordered to complete 120 hours unpaid work and pay £250 costs to the council. He has already made arrangements to repay the sums overpaid.
On the same day Deborah Sharland (42) of The Crescent, St Neots pleaded guilty to one charge of benefit fraud. Sharland admitted that she had claimed housing and council tax benefit on 7 March 2011, but failed to declare that her partner was in paid work. As a result of the false claim the court heard that she had been overpaid £2,532 between March and October 2011. The Magistrates gave her credit for her early guilty plea, previous good character and full co-operation with the council’s investigation, reducing her sentence from an unpaid work order to an 18 month Conditional Discharge. Sharland was also ordered to pay £2,058 in compensation and £200 towards the council’s costs.
On 26 April Jayne Taylor (30) of Abbot Way, Yaxley was arrested following her failure to attend earlier hearings in March and April. The court heard that Taylor had claimed benefit as a single parent at Windsor Road, Yaxley in 2009, but failed to report to the authorities that her husband moved to her address in March 2010. An investigation followed a report from a member of the public, and showed that Mrs Taylor had failed to report that her husband lived with her and worked full time between March 2010 and September 2011. As a result she was overpaid £5,053 in various benefits. Taylor, whose case was proved in her absence on 10 April 2012, was ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work, pay compensation to the council for its loss and the council’s costs of £350.
If you know of someone who is claiming benefit when they are not entitled to it, you can contact the council’s confidential fraud hotline on 01480 388188 or email using the link on the right. Leave as much information as possible to ensure that the council is aware of the full facts before an investigation starts. All reports received will be dealt with.