Benefit cheats appear in court

TWO benefit cheats have been ordered to pay back money claimed fraudulently from Huntingdonshire District Council.

TWO benefit cheats have been ordered to pay back money claimed fraudulently from Huntingdonshire District Council.

Simon Harris, of Allen Road, Ramsey, and Peter Eyre, of Greenfields, Earith, were identified as a result of data-matching undertaken by Huntingdonshire District Council to identify fraudulent benefit claims.

Their cases were dealt with at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (March 24).

In a third case, Jacqueline McNamara of Cowper Road, Huntingdon, pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud between 2007 and 2010.

As a result of false claims, McNamara was overpaid housing benefit and council tax benefit, and evaded paying her correct council tax liability, to the sum of �7,534.75.

Her case was adjourned until April 26 for pre-sentence reports, and magistrates warned that, because of McNamara’s previous convictions for benefit fraud, they would consider all options – including custody.

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Harris pleaded guilty to two charges of benefit fraud, relating to housing benefits overpaid on a property at Great Whyte, Ramsey.

He had been receiving benefit during 2009, but left the property in March 2010 without reporting it to HDC. He continued to receive housing benefit until June 2010 and, as a result, was overpaid �1,422.40 in housing benefit and �233.38 council tax benefit.

Harris, representing himself, accepted he was at fault and that he should have informed the council.

He will repay the overpaid benefits, and complete a six-month community order for 40 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of �240 in full.

The case against Eyre was proven in his absence. At an earlier hearing, Eyre had agreed to pay a financial penalty as an alternative to prosecution but had defaulted on the arrangement.

Eyre had made claims for housing benefit while living at Nene Way, St Ives, in early 2010. He was unemployed at the time of application, but returned to work in March of that year without informing HDC.

He had been overpaid �605.75 in housing benefit and �123.06 in council tax benefit.

The court heard that Eyre had failed to attend interviews set up to resolve the situation, and had defaulted in arrangements to pay back the benefits owed.

He was ordered by magistrates at Huntingdon to pay HDC �605.75 in compensation and the full costs of �440.