December 5 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
A POLICE constable fiddled nearly £9,000 in benefits while serving with Suffolk Constabulary, a court heard.
Today, benefit cheat Nicola Coe, of Holbrook Road, Ipswich, must abide by a 12-month community order after pleading guilty to three charges relating to falsely claiming housing and council tax concessions.
Two other similar charges were not pursued after she made her admissions before South East Suffolk Magistrates Court.
The disgraced officer resigned from her job after the constabulary began a disciplinary inquiry began in October last year.
Ipswich Borough Council prosecutor Mandy Ford told the court Coe, who is eight months pregnant with her fifth child, made a claim for benefits on July 9, 2009.
At the time she was living in a rented home in Faraday Road, Ipswich, under her maiden name, along with three dependent children.
The 39-year-old was given the benefits on the basis that she was on long-term sick leave from Suffolk Constabulary and her income had been cut.
However, on her application form she failed to declare she was being paid money through a police officers’ insurance scheme, which did not entitle her to concessions for housing or council tax.
The court heard if the borough council had known Coe was had been receiving payouts from insurance it would not have given her the benefits.
On February 2, 2010, Coe dishonestly completed another claim form, despite still being in receipt of insurance payments.
Coe also made a claim backdated to November 19, 2009.
The scam was discovered when the borough council made enquiries with Suffolk Constabulary to check Coe’s payment records.
The total benefit overpayment agreed by prosecution and defence was said to be somewhere in the region of £8,800.
Magistrates were told Coe, who has also lived in Murray Road, is currently paying the money back at £15-£20 a week. The repayments began six days ago.
John Hughes, mitigating, told the court Suffolk Constabulary cut salaries by half when an officer has been off ill for six months. After 12 months the force stop payments entirely.
Speaking on Coe’s behalf, he said: “She had significant ill-heath and admissions to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. In 2009 Mrs Coe had serious problems and was in and out of Addenbrooke’s five times in the preceding year. She was in a lot of difficulties with ill health and three dependent children.”
Mr Hughes added Coe had thought she had notified Ipswich Borough Council of the insurance payments she was receiving, at the time of the claims.
In addition to her 12-month supervised community order, Coe was ordered to pay £150 costs.
Prior to resigning from the police she had been based at Martlesham headquarters.
Richard Jones, a spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Suffolk Police can confirm that the Professional Standards Department was contacted by Ipswich Borough Council in October 2011 in relation to a serving police officer who had allegedly committed offences under the Fraud Act.
“The officer was suspended pending the investigation and has since resigned from the constabulary.”