A MAN has been handed two custodial sentences after he admitted duping a council out of nearly £24,000.

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Jason Wollaston, of Kemp Road, Finchingfield, pleaded guilty of two counts of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.

West Suffolk Magistrates’ Court in Bury St Edmnunds was told that the 43-year-old, who used to live in Waldingfield Road, Sudbury, had failed to declare he was living with his employed civil partner Brian Dawson.

The court was told that Wollaston made a claim to Babergh District Council in February 2010, declaring himself as a single person. As a result of the claim, council bosses said he was overpaid Income Support £10,153.26, Housing Benefit £11,581.08 and Council Tax Benefit £1,942.69.

Wollaston was handed two six month sentences, suspended for 12 months. He also received 120 hours community service and was ordered to pay back the money he fraudulently claimed plus £500 towards prosecution costs.

John Snell, Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s Corporate Manager – Internal Audit, said: “Babergh cannot and will not tolerate benefit fraud. We take all referrals of fraud seriously and will investigate and pursue cases whenever and wherever information is available to us, whether from government agencies or concerned citizens who suspect that someone is ripping off the system.”

He added: “This particular case was significant because the sheer amount of public money fraudulently claimed and we are pleased that the Magistrates likewise took the crime seriously and applied a tough sentence as a result. As well as the suspended sentences, the community service order and the requirement to pay some of the prosecution costs, Mr Woollaston will also be required to pay back the fraudulently claimed £23,000 as well”.

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