Alleged benefit fraud Eileen Ray lived with husband

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

Neighbours of an Ipswich 73-year-old alleged benefit cheat accused of dishonestly failing to tell the authorities she was living with her husband have told a court the couple had lived together for a number of years.

Sharon Titman told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court she was one of Eileen Ray’s neighbours in Hogarth Road and could remember her living there with her husband Peter as far back as the 1990s.

She said Mr Ray had “always” been at the property and was still living there when investigators started looking into Ray’s benefit claims in 2012.

Ray has denied three offences of making a false representation to obtain benefit, three offences of fraud and obtaining order book payments to the value of £14,800 by deception from the Department of Work and Pensions. The offences, which relate to claims for Income Support, Pension Credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, are alleged to have been committed between 1998-2012.

Marcus Croskell, prosecuting, alleged Ray dishonestly claimed benefits by claiming she lived alone when she was living with her husband. He said fraud investigators who carried out surveillance on Ray’s home saw her husband coming and going from the property and found he’d given Hogarth Road as his address to employers, loan companies and the DVLA. A motor home belonging to Mr Ray was also seen parked on the driveway.

Mr Croskell said Ray’s entitlement to benefit would have been affected if the authorities were aware she was living with her husband as his income from employment, pensions or benefits would have been assessed.

Giving evidence on the third day of Ray’s trial, Mrs Titman said she often saw Ray’s husband working in the garden, walking the dogs and coming and going in his car.

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Asked by Mr Croskell if there was any time when Mr Ray was not living at the premises, Mrs Titman said: “Not that I know of.”

Cross-examined by defence counsel Ian Persaud, Mrs Titman accepted she had not spoken to the couple much over the years and knew nothing of their personal life.

Former neighbour Suzanne Day told the court she had lived in Hogarth Road for seven years from 2007 and had assumed the Rays were living together. “He was always there. I assumed they were living there as husband and wife. His car was always at the address,” she said. She accepted she had not got on well with Ray while they were neighbours.

The trial continues today.

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