£11,000 benefits cheat

Issue 433

A JUDGE branded a Dewsbury grandfather a “dishonest man and a cheat” and said: “I hope that gets around your neighbourhood.”
Jobless Patrick Hayes, 61, of Ravens Avenue, Scout Hill, claimed more than £11,000 in benefits he wasn’t entitled to over a fiveyear period.
Leeds Crown Court was told how Hayes had more than £16,000 in savings which he moved around different bank accounts, claiming he was holding the money for his grandchildren.
Hayes admitted 11 counts of benefit fraud relating to housing and council tax benefits and income support and Judge Paul Hoffman sentenced him to four months in jail, suspended for two years, and ordered him to pay £3,939 prosecution costs.
Hayes is also repaying the benefits he shouldn’t have received.
The judge said: “These frauds are serious because of the length of time. They are a fraud on the entire public, particularly those who live their lives without cheating. You are now branded as a dishonest man and a cheat.
“In my view you tried to keep one step ahead of the authorities by changing bank accounts.
“There may be something in the claim that you regard the entire amount of these savings as money held for your grandchildren. But I don’t buy that 100 per cent because you could have put them in the names of your grandchildren.”
The judge said Hayes was paying off the overpayment in stages and added: “While that is something of a mitigation, I am not deluding myself that you did it out of the kindness of your heart but because you had been rumbled.
“But at least it can be said the country will not lose out.”
The case had taken two years to come to court but the judge said he would still make a substantial order for costs against him.
“This will make you realise that your greed has financial consequences,” he said.
Mr Howard Shaw, prosecuting, said Hayes had overclaimed £11,182 between 2003 and 2008.
His savings with the Halifax and Lloyds TSB exceeded the £16,000 limit for drawing benefits.
When caught, Hayes claimed he was keeping the money in trust for his grandchildren and that he had not acted out of malice.
Mr Robin Frieze, for Hayes, said he was unable to work as he had diabetes, hypertension and panic attacks. He and his wife were effectively carers for their two grandchildren.

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