9 May 2014

Benefits fraudsters found guilty in council prosecutions

A man who fraudulently claimed over £29,000 in benefits whilst running a lettings agency was handed a 10 months prison sentence, suspended for one year, by Brighton magistrates yesterday (Thursday, 8 May).

Stephen Winter Gill, 32, of 88 Rotherfield Crescent, Brighton, pleaded guilty to five counts of falsely claiming benefits and was sentenced to five months for each offence. He was also ordered to pay £1,980 costs, £80 victim surcharge and carry out 180 hours unpaid work.

Mr Gill claimed £28,543.68 in housing benefits and £731 in council tax benefit. He said he was paying rent to his mother and needed to claim housing benefit, but the council discovered no evidence of rent being paid. Mr Gill also failed to declare changes in household income and was running a lettings agency.

During Brighton & Hove City Council’s investigation Mr Gill admitted that he had set up a tenancy agreement in order to claim housing benefit.

In two other cases Mr Alieu Marr, 40, of 16 Farm Road, Hove, pleaded guilty to charges of claiming £29,406.38 in housing benefit and £1,234.20 in council tax benefit and to having a forged visa stamp on his passport.

Mr Marr said he was British and eligible to claim benefits in UK but his visa to remain in the country had expired in 2003.

The case was referred to the Crown Court for sentencing.

Magistrates also found Lee Simpson, 46, of 51 Stanley Street, Brighton, guilty of falsely claiming £10,952.44 in housing benefit when he was not living at the address for which he was claiming. Mr Simpson failed to attend court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.