73-year-old Ipswich benefit cheat spared jail after dishonestly claiming £69,000

Benefit cheat spared jail

Benefit cheat spared jail - Credit: Archant

A 73-year-old benefit cheat who dishonestly claimed £69,000 she wasn’t entitled to has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send her straight to prison.

Eileen Ray claimed on the forms that she wasn’t living with a partner at her home in Hogarth Road, Ipswich when she was living with her husband Peter Ray, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Fraud investigators who carried out surveillance on Ray’s home saw her husband regularly coming and going from the property and discovered he had given Hogarth Road as his address to employers and loan companies. During Ray’s trial last month the court heard that a housing officer who visited the property found a number of improvements had been made, including a new kitchen and bathroom and there was also a conservatory, a loft conversion and a log cabin.

Ray denied three offences of making a false representation to obtain benefit, three offences of fraud and obtaining order money by deception but was found guilty of all the offences. The offences, which relate to claims for Income Support, Pension Credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, were committed between 1998-2012.

Sentencing Ray to a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years Recorder Ian Evans said she had told the probation service she didn’t accept the jury’s verdicts. “That is a fact you have to accept and you have to live with however much you shake your head,” said the judge.

He said that in his opinion she had been convicted of the offences on “overwhelming” evidence. In addition to the suspended prison sentence Recorder Evans made Ray the subject of a six month curfew between the hours of 9am-5pm except pre-arranged medical appointments. Ian Persaud for Ray said the benefit overpayment was being taken each week from her benefit payments.

He said Ray was in poor health and there would be grave concerns for her well-being if she was sent to prison.