December 11 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Hunter
Saturday, August 17, 2013
A couple who illegally claimed housing benefit while splashing cash on luxury holidays abroad have been found guilty of fraud.
Hannah Barnes and William Edwards, of Pinewood, near Ipswich, claimed almost £5,000 in housing benefit despite not being entitled to it.
Magistrates’ at West Suffolk Magistrates’ Court said the pair had “behaved dishonestly” and “hatched a plan” to “maximise the benefits which they could obtain”.
The couple began living together along with Barnes’ son but found they could not claim the benefit.
After spending a few weeks apart Edwards began living at Barnes’ home again for a few nights a week.
Barnes resumed her claim for housing benefit while at the same time she also received money from Edwards which she did not declare.
During this period the family went on holidays to Fuerteventura and Disneyland Paris.
Barnes was found guilty of failing to tell the authority of her change in circumstances.
Edwards was found guilty of aiding and abetting Barnes.
John Snell, corporate manager for Internal Audit at Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, which brought the case to court, said: “The benefits that we provide are there to ensure that local residents who are in genuine need of help receive support.
“They are not there to fund expensive lifestyles or foreign holidays and, with help from the public, we can and will find and prosecute people who commit benefit fraud.”
The couple, who will be forced to pay the money back, will be sentenced at a hearing on August 22 which will be held at West Suffolk Magistrates’ Court.
The case was brought to court following a referral received via Babergh District Council’s ‘Report a Cheat’ system.