Horndean couple given suspended prison sentence after £69,000 benefit fraud
A Horndean couple have been given suspended prison sentences after fraudulently claiming more than £69,400 of benefits.
Christine Palmer (43) and Ian Palmer (48), of Merchistoun Road, lied to East Hampshire District Council about where they lived and the nature of their relationship, unfairly securing thousands of pounds of housing and council tax benefit. They were helped by friend Thomas Bryan Dufty (61), of Alton, who signed a flase tenancy agreement in order to facilitate the couple’s fraud also resulting in his Council Tax being paid by the Council.
Between September 2006 and August 2011 Christine Palmer received £23,906.73 of Housing Benefit, £4,456.36 of Council Tax Benefit and £41,070.55 of Income Support to which she was not entitled. A total of £69,433.64. She and her husband, Ian Palmer, had falsely claimed they were living in Dufty’s property in Alton, claiming Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit for that address, whereas they were in fact living in Basingstoke.
The couple also claimed that Ian was Christine’s second cousin and carer, in order to attract further benefits, but in fact the couple had been married since 2008. In March 2008, Christine moved to Merchistoun Road, Horndean. She was joined there by her husband but continued to maintain she was living alone and so she received further benefit, to which she was not entitled.
Dufty signed a false tenancy agreement stating the couple were living in Mallards, Alton, whereas in fact he was living there himself. In doing so he helped the Palmers make their fraudulent claims and this enabled the Palmers to receive Council Tax Benefit totalling £1,085.11 in respect of his property in Alton.
On June 14 Aldershot Magistrates Court found Dufty guilty and fined him £400 and ordered him to pay £350 towards prosecution costs.
Christine and Ian Palmer were sentenced at an earlier hearing, in November 2012, at Winchester Crown Court. Christine Palmer received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, while Ian Palmer was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years. They were also both given a two year supervision order.
Sue Hall Senior Investigations Officer said: “This fraud was a despicable waste of welfare benefit which spanned a considerable period of time and it came to light as a result of a routine visit when Palmer claimed in Merchistoun Road. The benefits team at East Hampshire District Council remain committed to ensuring that benefit is administered to those genuinely entitled to it.”
EHDC Press Release.