Man falsely claims £18k in benefits

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A GRANDFATHER-of four who falsely claimed more than £18,000 in housing and council tax benefit over a six year period had £27,000 stashed in an undisclosed bank account, a court has heard.

Brian Locke, 75, of Anselm Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, pleaded guilty to knowingly making a false representation with a view of obtaining a benefit at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on August 30.

Prosecuting on behalf of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Nigel Dulieu said Locke had failed to declare £27,000 he had in an Abbey National account when he registered for benefits on September 5, 2006.

He said: “At that time he declared three bank accounts with £5,000 contained but failed to declare the Abbey National account.”

The error had led to him being paid £15,197.54 in housing benefit and £2,856.37 in council tax benefit.

The court heard it wasn’t until March 27 last year that the error was spotted and Locke brought in for questioning.

Mr Dulieu said when Locke was first interviewed, on February 8, he said the account did not belong to him and that the money belonged to a friend in Sri Lanka called Mr Zelius.

However, when questioned again on February 20, Locke admitted that, although he did have a friend called Mr Zelius, he had nothing to do with the money.

In mitigation Mark Thompson said Locke had already paid back most of the money he had over claimed and that Locke had thought, after three failed marriages, he deserved to keep some of his savings.

He said: “He lost a lot of money in these marriages and found himself almost penniless.

“He drank a considerable amount to the point he thought he was an alcoholic, but he is now dry. He is someone who feels he had a poor lot in life and deserved a nest egg.”

Locke was ordered to pay back the money he over claimed, was fined £130, was made to pay £355 in court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.