A couple from Barry in Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, have been handed suspended prison sentences for benefit fraud after being convicted of conning almost £50,000 in benefits by pretending one was the other one’s landlord.
Cardiff Crown Court heard that Lace Eileen Perrett, 56, claimed both Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and housing benefit between March 2013 and November 2017 from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and her local authority, the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
But despite claiming that she lived on her own and was unable to work her partner, it transpired that her partner, Leon Ronald Harris, 58, who was registered as a Perrett’s landlord, was actually living with her.
On a form dated Monday 30th January 2017, both Perrett and Harris signed to claim benefits stating that Harris was the landlord and Perrett was the tenant.
In total the pair received in £47,111 between August 2013 and November 2017 in benefits they were not entitled to.
Prosecutor Thomas Roberts told Cardiff Crown Court: “She [Perrett] was maintaining a common household with Harris [from August 2013]. That change in circumstance was never reported.”
The court was informed that the couple went on at least three holidays between August 2013 and November 2017, enjoying trips to Bulgaria, Spain, and Greece.
However, the couple came under investigation following an anonymous online tip was reported to the DWP.
Perrett was charged with two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstance of entitlement to social security benefit and one count of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.
Harris was charged with one count of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit after the declaration on the form in January 2017.
Both pleaded guilty to the charges at Cardiff Magistrates Court.
The couple, which are currently paying the overpayment in monthly instalments, have both been handed suspended 12-month prison sentences suspended for 20 months.
In addition, Perrett was ordered to undertake 20 sessions of rehabilitation activities and Harris was ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.
When handing down her sentence, Judge Nicola Jones said: “This is entirely out of character for both of you and I accept you both have genuine remorse. I doubt very much either of you will commit an offence again.”