Retired fisherman falsely claimed nearly £25k in benefits

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

Bideford man fails to declare inheritance when claiming benefits from council and Department for Work and Pensions

A BIDEFORD man has been given a suspended jail sentence for falsely claiming nearly £25,000 in benefits.

Ronald Newton, of 141 Moreton Park Road, Bideford, failed to declare an inheritance from his father when applying for council and housing tax benefits in January 2010 and pension credits in November 2009.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefit at North Devon Magistrates Court today (Fri)

The 65-year-old retired fisherman said he had no other saving accounts when in fact in total he was found to have £239,467.42 in accounts at the time of his claim.

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Newton falsely claimed a total of £24,597 from Torridge District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Lyndsey Baker, prosecuting, said the funds were discovered during a departmental data match which took place in February 2012.

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She said Newton admitted filling out the forms but gave no further comment when interviewed.

Tony Dart, for the defence, said Newton had ‘earmarked’ the money for his children, and had not thought to declare it.

He said: “His father left him an inheritance, but because he and his wife had paid off the mortgage they said it was for the children.

“He and his wife haven’t touched and of that money at all.

“They earmarked the money away and that’s why he didn’t put it on the form.

“If he had put it in a trust fund it probably wouldn’t have counted; he was foolish not to do that.”

The court heard Newton had a previous conviction for making false representation to obtain benefits in 2000.

Magistrates sentenced Newton to a total of 24 weeks in custody for the two offences (12 weeks for each offence) suspended for a year. He was also ordered to pay costs of £85.

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