A St Ives’ couple have been ordered to repay £24,000 after a joint fraud investigation showed they had been sub-letting their property.

David Clements, 39, and Theresa Creaney, 53, jointly appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on November 29 to hear the outcome of a Proceeds of Crime Act Application.

Clements and Creaney, previously of Goldcrest Road, St Ives, pleaded guilty to offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, by sub-letting the shared ownership property they had with BPHA for three years while living in Northern Ireland and in another property that Creaney owned.

Huntingdonshire District Council's corporate fraud team commenced an investigation into Clements and Creaney following information received from BPHA, the landlord of the shared ownership property. Clements originally became eligible for the property as he was working as a teacher at a nearby school, and these properties were allocated by BPHA to first time buyers/key workers to allow access to affordable housing. Sub-letting is not permitted in these type of properties. Creaney then moved in with him a few months later.

Following a joint investigation and visit to the address, it was established that Clements and Creaney were renting out rooms in the property and charging between £350 and £450 per month.

It was found to be occupied by three tenants, all of whom were paying rent and unaware it was a shared ownership property. The tenants told investigators the property had been advertised through SpareRoom.com and most communications had been dealt with via email or text, with some tenants never actually meeting Clements or Creaney in person.

Clements and Creaney originally appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on October 4 and pleaded guilty to offences Contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. At this hearing a benefit figure from criminal activity was agreed at £41,990.95 and Clements was sentenced to 12 months custody suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.

Creaney was sentenced to nine months in custody, suspended for 18 months, due to her ongoing health issues.

After the hearing, councillor Jonathan Gray, executive councillor for resources at HDC, said: "This case once again shows what collaborative working with our partners can achieve. We take housing those that need it very seriously, and will do everything we can to assist our social landlords if they believe a property is sub-let or not being occupied, as this has a direct impact on our waiting list and families in temporary accommodation."