Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Walberswick: Villagers’ shame at benefit cheat tag

12:55 13 March 2014

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

Archant

A Walberswick couple were overpaid more than £20,000 benefits after failing to tell officials they were working for a local car park company, a court has heard.

shares

John Harris, 68, was employed as operations manager for Walberswick Car Parks Ltd and dishonestly obtained £16,975 in pension credits by failing to disclose he and his wife were in employment, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

When he was questioned about the overpayment he admitted working for the car park company for six months a year. When asked why he had not told the relevant authority about it he said: “I didn’t think of it, to be perfectly honest.” He also said he ticked the wrong box on a claim form.

His wife Sylvia, 71, was overpaid £8,000 in council tax benefit after failing to tell Suffolk Coastal District Council that the couple’s household had increased.

John Harris, of Church Field, Walberswick, admitted making a dishonest representation to obtain benefit and was given a 13-week electronically-monitored curfew between 8pm-6am.

His wife, of the same address, admitted failing to notify a change in circumstances that would affect her entitlement to council tax benefit and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Sentencing the couple, Assistant Judge Advocate General, Judge Emma Peters, said she accepted the couple had suffered great shame as a result of the offences by being labelled “benefit cheats”.

She said Sylvia Harris’s initial claim for council tax benefit had been genuine and it was accepted she had not acted dishonestly in failing to notify a change in circumstances.

Sentencing John Harris, Judge Peters said the charge was more serious but due to his previous good character and the circumstances of the case the custody threshold was not crossed.

Jonathan Goodman, for the couple, said they were both of previous good character and had lost their good names. He said they lived in a small village and were now known for being benefit cheats. “That’s not a nice tag,” he said.

He said Sylvia Harris had written out a cheque for the money she was overpaid and her husband intended doing the same after being told before yesterday’s hearing exactly how much he owed.

He said Sylvia Harris’s claim was genuine at the outset and she had not been asked to fill in another form during the next four years.

Mr Goodman said John Harris had initially applied for benefits perfectly properly. After being approached to run the car park he had written a letter to the local council in relation to council tax and housing benefit payments. However he had not notified a separate department which dealt with pension credits.

shares

1 comment

Police are searching for 15-year-old Niamh McGovern, who has gone missing from Braintree (pictured)

Police say they are concerned for the welfare of a 15-year-old girl who has gone missing from Braintree.

Maj Bruce Ekman, 36, of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, who suffered serious injuries when his vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, is taking part in the Invictus Games process for a second time. Photo: Cpl James McAllister

A soldier whose left foot was shattered by an explosive in Afghanistan is in the running for a place on the UK team at the next Invictus Games.

Mouth cancer survivor Sam Fordham with husband Neil and five-year-old daughter Molly

A woman who beat mouth cancer has said it is vital people who think they have symptoms of any form of the disease gets them checked out early.

Pupils at Farlingaye High, Woodbridge, prepare their presentations as part of the Most Able Student Day at the school.

Gifted pupils gathered for the latest in a series of events aimed at helping them realise their early academic promise.

Rail passengers will be bussed to Newbury Park Tube station.

A 100-strong fleet of buses was rolling into action today to keep passengers moving between East Anglia and London as the first weekend rail line closure takes effect.

Ipswich Crown Court.

An Ipswich mother accused of helping herself to £27,000 of her 25-year-old son’s money while he was in a care home has told a court he let her use some of his money to pay her debts.

The launch of a campaign for better mobile phone signal in Boxford and South Suffolk with MP James Cartlidge.

Improving mobile phone signals in rural Suffolk could be a matter of “life and death”.

Most read

Fred Olsen Travel Sale

cover

Click here to view
the Fred Olsen
Travel Sale

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24