Two suspended prison sentences for West Molesey benefits cheats

Payback: Both will have to cough up

Payback: Both will have to cough up

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

Two West Molesey people have been given suspended prison sentences and curfews after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.

Sarah Hill, 40, of Grange Road, was given an 18-week sentence, suspended for two years, and a 12-week curfew order, to be monitored by an electronic tag, at Redhill Magistrates’ Court on February 11.

Hill admitted dishonestly filling out a form which failed to declare she was living and maintaining a common household with her partner, and that she had earned income which had an effect on her entitlement to housing benefit, council tax benefit and council tax support.

In a three year period, from May 2010 to September 2013, Hill received £21,813.07 of housing benefit, council tax benefit and council tax support from Elmbridge Council she was not entitled to.

Along with the sentence handed down by the court, the council is also recovering the overpaid benefits.

A second resident, Gemma Duffy, 34, of Faraday Road, was given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, a 21 day curfew from 7pm to 6am and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid community work at Guildford Crown Court on February 24.

Duffy previously pleaded guilty to five benefit offences of dishonestly failing to inform the council about changes in circumstances and making false statements to the council.

She failed to tell the council about undeclared capital of more than £19,000, and as a result, received more than £26,000 in housing and council tax overpayment from April 2008 to August 2010.

Duffy has begun to start repaying the money to the council and the court also award £3,500 of costs to the council which is also to be repaid.

Councillor James Browne, cabinet member for housing, said: “I hope these latest council prosecution successes will serve as a further reminder to others that benefit fraud is a serious crime.

“Elmbridge Council will not tolerate residents claiming benefits to which they are not entitled and will take tough action against anyone found to be acting dishonestly.”

Residents can report suspected benefit fraud by calling the councils confidential fraud hotline on 01372 474291.

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