Plaistow father spared jail over �45,000 benefit fraud

Man, 72, claimed for 11 years while holding job

A pensioner who cheated taxpayers out of nearly �45,000 in benefits to pay for his daughter’s upkeep has been spared jail.

Kenneth Neil, 72, of Pragel Street, Plaistow, falsely claimed income support, housing and council tax benefit and pension credits between 2000 and 2011 while working as a cleaner.

He pocketed more than �28,000 in pension payments in addition to �14,312 from the Notting Hill Housing Association and a further �1,678 from Newham Council.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard Neil spent the bulk of the cash on bringing up his daughter, who is now 11.

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Neil, who also has three grown-up children, was caught following an investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Over the 11-year period he was employed by firms including Ocean Contract Cleaning Limited, Staff Outsource Limited and Harkhaven Limited.

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Neil admitted making false representation to obtain benefit, obtaining property by deception and two counts of evasion of liability by deception.

Sentencing Neil to a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, and 120 hours’ unpaid work, Judge Alan Pardoe QC told him: “You held a job throughout but you didn’t disclose your earnings.

“These frauds are serious – they are a fraud on all honest taxpayers, everyone who honestly pays their council tax and everyone who does not obtain benefits.

“This is not a victimless crime – the victims are all the honest taxpayers.

“This unquestionably crosses the custodial threshold and was very fraudulent behaviour.

“The fact that you devoted the money to bringing up your child does not diminish the fraud.”

The court heard Jamaican-born Neil wrongly received �44,811.96 in total.

“During an interview he said the money was used for his daughter and he didn’t feel he was doing anything wrong,” prosecutor Krystal Whyment said.

“He was trying to save his ex-partner and daughter from relying on the state and felt he was being provided with nothing more than assistance for his family.

“This was fraudulent from the outset and carried out over a long period of time.”

Rebecca Helliwell, mitigating, insisted that Neil was not living an “extravagant” lifestyle,

“The money from his earnings has gone to his child and he has actually been living on his benefits,” she added.

“He is very remorseful and ashamed to be before the courts for the first time in his life at 72 years of age.”

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