Brighton benefits cheat fined

Posted On 18 Aug 2010 at 9:34 pm

A Brighton benefit fraudster’s sunshine holiday came to an abrupt end when he was arrested at Leeds Airport.

Police were waiting to arrest Patrick Walker, 38, formerly of Newick Road, Moulseoomb, as he returned from a holiday in Gran Canaria on Monday 16 August .

According to Brighton and Hove City Council, after a night spent in police cells, Walker, who now lives in Shipley, West Yorkshire, was brought to Brighton Magistrates´ Court on yesterday to face charges of fraudulently claiming housing benefit.

He admitted all three charges and was fined a total of £801, ordered to pay £750 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge. The court heard that Walker had already repaid the £952.57 benefits he had fraudulently claimed.

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Mr Len Batten, prosecuting on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council, said that in March 2008 Walker had claimed housing benefit as a joint tenant of a property in Cheltenham Place.

He produced a tenancy agreement and a letter from Mountview Estates which he claimed was his landlord.

As a result he received a weekly housing benefit entitlement of £79.85 and council tax benefit of £10.41.

However, in April, it was discovered that Walker had never lived at Cheltenham Place, but was a friend of one of the previous tenants who had passed away.

Mountview Estates also confirmed that Walker had never been a tenant.

As a result, Walker had incurred a housing benefit overpayment of £947.80 and a council tax benefit of £104.77.

He had also produced false documents to support his benefit claims and failed to attend three meetings set up to discuss the matters.

A warrant for Walker’s arrest, without bail, was issued after he failed to appear at court on September 8 last year.

He was eventually tracked down to an address in Yorkshire.

Councillor Trevor Alford, cabinet member responsible for revenue and benefits, said: “This sends a strong message that you cannot get away with defrauding the taxpayer by moving to another part of the country – the council will eventually track you down.

“In this case, a £900 overpayment has resulted in fines of over £1,500.

“Benefit fraud means honest council taxpayers end up subsidising cheats.

“Benefits are for those who genuinely need them – not for fraudsters.”

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