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1 May 2018

Benefit cheat 'did not particularly regret' claiming £11,600

A man who fraudulently claimed more than £11,600 in benefits has been told it is “astonishing” that he does not really regret doing it.

Christopher Barber initially didn’t tell the authorities that his wife had moved in with him, and then when he came clean about that he did not notify them she was working.

When eventually caught, he said he did not disclose the real situation because it would have meant a cut in the amount of money he was receiving.

Swansea Crown Court heard Barber’s initial claims for employment and support allowance were based on him living alone, and being unable to work due to ill health.

However, his wife later moved into the address, and they began maintaining a “common household”.

He did not at first notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the new arrangements - but when he did, he claimed his wife was not working. In fact she worked as a care assistant.

In total Barber fraudulently claimed some £11,618.59 between November 2014 and June 2017.

Barber, aged 58, from Bonymaen, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to promptly notify the authorities of a change of circumstance when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard he had told benefit investigators he did not disclose the changes in circumstances because that would have meant a reduction in the amount of money he was receiving, and he was struggling to get by as it was.

Lee Davies, for Barber, said his client’s benefit claim had initially been legitimate, but he accepted the prosecution case that he had subsequently failed to notify the DWP.

Judge Geraint Walters told the defendant he had “effectively stolen from the state”.

He said the defendant claimed to have difficulty managing his bills and finance but said many tens of thousands of people were experiencing similar problems, and that was not an excuse for what he had done.

The judge said he had read a pre-sentence report into Barber which said he did not seem to particularly regret what he had done.

He said: “It is astonishing that you have the gall to tell a probation officer that you did not particularly regret it. You should. This case is serious enough to justify prison. You helped yourself to benefits to which you were not entitled.”

For each of the two offences Barber was sentenced to six months in prison, the sentence to run concurrently - at the same time - making six months in total, and wholly suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete a rehabilitation course.

Barber has so far repaid £133.20 of the money he owes.

The court heard a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation was currently underway, and judge Walters warned Barber that “if you are found to have any assets, you won’t be keeping them”.

Source

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