Couple took £28k in benefit fraud

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A COUPLE who admitted benefit fraud totalling £28,000 are to be sentenced next month.

Lee and Christine Martin pocketed almost £5,500 from Breckland Council when they lived in Thetford in 2006 – the start of four years of fraud.

The couple, now of Garland Close, Haverhill, are due to be sentenced at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on November 1.

Mr Martin, 37, admitted seven charges of benefit fraud, while Mrs Martin, 33, pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to provide notification of a change of circumstances when they appeared before the court on October 6.

The couple began claiming benefits in 2006 while they were living in Thetford but when Mr Martin began work the following year in April, he failed to inform the council or Job Centre Plus.

In May 2008, the couple claimed housing and Council Tax benefits from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

But again, when they began work neither Mr Martin nor his wife informed the borough council nor Job Centre Plus.

An investigation found that Mr Martin began working in August 2008 for Culina Logistics Ltd. A year later in September 2009, Mrs Martin got a job at the Tesco store in the town.

The following July, they were interviewed by Benefit Fraud investigators. The couple admitted that they had failed to declare their work saying they were in debt, desperate for money and worried about losing their benefits.

Investigators found the couple had been overpaid £16,244.83 in Income Support, nearly £10,000 in housing benefit, some £5,441.56 of that while they were living in Haverhill. They had also been overpaid £1,709.42 in Council Tax benefit by St Edmundsbury and a further £1,045.67 in the same benefit from Breckland Council.

In total, the amount they were overpaid was £28,824.13.