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Article by David Turner: A benefits cheat has been sentenced to a year in prison after admitting a £45,000 fraud over three years.

John De’ath, 52, of Haven Rise, Billericay, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, after admitting over claiming £45,240 in council tax relief and housing benefit.

Basildon Council, which investigated the fraud, is considering pursuing civil action against De’ath to recover the huge debt.

Stuart Sullivan, Basildon councillor responsible for resources, said the prosecution serves as a warning to other benefits cheats.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Stuart Sullivan"]Basildon Council will not hesitate to take action against benefits cheats. In addition to the punishment handed out by the court further action could be taken by the council to recover the debt. Benefit fraud is a crime and those who commit it are depriving others who are in genuine need of support.[/quote]

De’ath admitted failing to notify the authority about a change in his circumstances under the Social Security Act 1992, on three occasions.

As a result De’ath over claimed council tax relief of £3,752 between June 14, 2010, and March 31, last year, and housing benefit of £41,487, between June 14, 2010, and November 10, last year.

De’ath was ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month supervision order when sentenced at Southend Crown Court on Thursday.

The fraudster, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, on November 5, was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

Article by David Turner, South Essex News

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