Benefit cheats to pay back £20,000

Published on: Wednesday, 04-November-2015

A judge has ordered a benefit cheat to pay back in the region of £20,000 to Knowsley Council in the next three months or face a custodial sentence.

Edward Durkin, aged 45 years, and his partner Joan Bennett, aged 42 years, pleaded guilty to offences associated with false Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claims over a period of eight years. In addition Mr Durkin pleaded guilty to money laundering offences since the false benefit was paid into a bank account in his name.

Mr Durkin had claimed to be the landlord of a property in Thistley Hey Road, Kirkby, where Joan Bennett lived.

However, an investigation by Knowsley Council found the couple had been living together at the address.

A financial investigation carried out after conviction also found that between them, the couple had sufficient assets to be able to repay the money that had been falsely claimed.

At a Confiscation Hearing on Friday, 30 October under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the judge at Liverpool Crown Court agreed that both Durkin and Bennett had benefitted from their criminal conduct and awarded a Confiscation Order of £20,660.32 against Durkin and £4,850.32 with a direction that any contribution by one defendant will be taken off the amount owed by the other. Both have been given three months to repay the full amount to Knowsley Council or face imprisonment and still be required to repay the money.

A Knowsley Council spokesperson, said “This is an excellent result for Knowsley Council and also sends out the clear message that we will actively pursue anybody who falsely claims benefits they are not entitled to in order for us to recover the money.

“We rely on our communities to tell us when they suspect someone is committing benefit fraud and we will always investigate those claims.

“If a person who claims benefits has a change in their circumstances which affects those benefits, they should tell the council as soon as possible. Anyone who suspects somebody is committing benefit fraud in Knowsley should inform the council anonymously on 0800 073 0532.”