Bideford benefit cheat falsely claimed £22k

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

Council urges claimants to ‘come clean’ about changes in circumstances or face prosecution.

A BIDEFORD woman has admitted claiming more than £22,000 in benefits she wasn’t entitled to

Loretta Hewitt, 29, of Barton Tors, failed to notify Torridge District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that she had been living with her partner Matthew Cleverly for three years.

She admitted illegally claiming housing and council tax benefits as well as income support between October 2010 and February 2013.

Torridge District Council leader Philip Collins said: “It gives us no pleasure in prosecuting people but sometimes it has to be done.

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“Benefits are in place to help local people who really need that kind of support. I would urge anyone claiming benefits who has a change in their personal circumstances to contact us immediately to discuss their correct entitlements.

“Please don’t let it get to the point where we have to prosecute.”

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On Friday North Devon Magistrates handed Hewitt, who is already repaying what she owes, a six-month daily curfew between 8pm and 7am. They also ordered Hewitt to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and costs of £105.

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