Benefit cheat avoids prison
5:30pm Thursday 31st October 2013 in Latest News
AN UNEMPLOYED man who married his landlady continued claiming housing benefit on the marital home as if he were still a bachelor, a court heard.
James Miles took more than £20,000 in state handouts he wasn't entitled to by claiming he was still single, a court heard.
But in reality the 33-year-old, who only accepted unlawfully getting £15,000, had got his landlady pregnant and then married her.
Simon Goodman, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that Miles started getting Job Seekers’ Allowance as a single man in October 2008 .
He said the claim continued until March last year, apart from a month in the summer of 2010 when he had work.
But on September 19, 2009, he married Stacey Pope and did not tell the authorities about the change in his circumstances.
The court heard during that period he also received housing benefit as a single man. When he was questioned he admitted what he had done.
“He said she fell pregnant and he married her. They then had a rough patch,” Mr Goodman said.
He said the Department Of Work and Pensions had calculated the total loss to be £20,052 but the defence only accepted it was £15,000.
Miles, of Gifford Road, Stratton St Margaret, admitted two counts of fraud.
Mark Ashley, defending, said the difference in the figures arose out of a seven-month period when Miles lived alone, despite being married.
He said the claim for benefits was originally a valid one but when Miles got married he should have declared the change.
He said: “Miles got in to a relationship with his landlady, then married her when she became pregnant.
“There was a slightly sad start to the relationship. Having decided to do the right thing, within a month his wife lost the child.
“That was the start of a very difficult emotional period. She effectively went off the radar for seven months. She moved out.
“He was only able to contact her by telephone. Those were seven months before they could get together again and recover from the miscarriage.
“Happily, they have got back together and they have a child and his wife is currently expecting their second. She is currently on maternity leave. He is currently working.
“He is working hard to put food on the table for the family. He has asked me to apologise.
He said Miles was paying back £125 a month and had already handed over £1,500 to the authorities.
Passing sentence Recorder David Bartlett said: “It is an aggravating factor in my view when you did get a job at one time, and then presumably lost it, you stopped benefits and then started again without declaring it.”
He imposed a nine-month jail term suspended for a year and told him to do 180 hours of community service and pay £340 towards the costs of the case.