Thanet district Council press release
A Margate man has been jailed for 16 months, after fraudulently claiming more than £50,000 in benefits.
Michael Prior (39) from Hatfeild Road was arrested in December 2007, along with his wife Julie (44), for living together and not declaring it, dating back to 2003. During that time, he was overpaid £27,446.95 in Income Support, £23,378.55 in Housing Benefit and £2,659.62 in Council Tax Benefit.
Mr. Prior faced seven charges in total, five of failing to declare a change in his circumstances and two under the Theft Act, while his wife was charged with three offences of knowingly allowing him to claim benefits.
Both pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced yesterday (Monday 22 December) at Canterbury Crown Court.
Mr. Prior was sentenced to eight months plus another eight months to run consecutively and was told he would have to serve at least eight months. His wife received a 20 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and a supervision order for 12 months.
They were told by Judge Nash, presiding, that they were “both in the dock because of their dishonesty with taxpayers’ money” and that “as a taxpayer, I feel aggrieved and insulted.”
Cllr. Martin Wise, Cabinet Member for Finance, Improvement and Customer Service, said: “This case sends out a strong message to anyone tempted to try and cheat the system. This fraud had been going on for a number of years and had resulted in massive overpayments, which come out of our pockets as taxpayers. It’s never pleasant to see someone sent to prison just before Christmas, but it’s clear that the courts took this case exceptionally seriously in light of the amount of money that had been fraudulently claimed.”
To advise of any changes to your circumstances if you are claiming benefits, call 01843 577369.