Hunts benefit cheats to pay back more than �16,000

A HUNTINGDON woman collected �7,534 in overpaid benefits and discounts after hiding the fact her father lived at her house.

A HUNTINGDON woman collected �7,534 in overpaid benefits and discounts after hiding the fact her father lived at her house.

Jacqueline McNamara, 29, of Cowper Road, applied for discount on her Council Tax as the sole adult at the address.

At Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court, McNamara was given a 12-month community order with a requirement to complete 150 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to repay the overpaid benefits. She admitted eight charges of benefit fraud and one of evading her Council Tax liability.

McNamara was one of three cases prosecuted by Huntingdonshire District Council in the past fortnight.

Gary Desmond, 41, was found guilty after a day-long trial of having made claims for housing and Council Tax benefit between July 2009 and June 2010 at a property in Windmill Close, Ellington.

Desmond, now of Jaywick, Clacton-on-Sea, had declared that he was a single man and that his wife, Deborah Desmond, had left his address.

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But council investigations found that Desmond’s wife had not left, and the two had made it appear that they had separated.

The court heard from witnesses who confirmed the couple had lived together at the time of the claims, although Desmond gave evidence to deny it.

The court sentenced Desmond, who had been overpaid �3,300 housing and Council Tax benefit, to a 12-week curfew order and ordered him to pay �250 towards the council’s costs and repay the overpaid benefits.

Deborah Desmond, who was jointly charged with her husband, remains at large with a police warrant for her arrest.

Alan Rowland, of Montagu Street, Eynesbury, was ordered to repay �5,762 in housing benefits and jobseekers’ allowance overpaid between February 2009 and July 2010.

Rowland, 28, admitted two charges of benefit fraud.

He claimed housing benefit in 2009 by providing false information about his landlord.

He also failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions that in July 2009 he was living with his partner, who he had previously declared to be his landlord, while continuing to claim benefit as a single person.

Elaine Havord, mitigating for Rowland, said he had co-operated with the investigation, made full admissions at interview and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. She said he had arranged to pay back the overpaid benefits at more than �200 a month.

Rowland received a 12-month community order, was ordered to complete 120 hours unpaid work and to pay the council’s full costs of �260.

Terri-Ann Wingrove, Rowland’s partner and co-accused, had her case adjourned to May 24 for pleas to be entered.

INFORMATION: To contact the council’s confidential fraud hotline, call 01480 388188 or e-mail