Pair pocket £40k with benefit con

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TWO benefit fraudsters who created a fictitious landlord to receive more than £40,000 in housing benefits have been handed suspended prison sentences.

But George Gibbs, 50, and Rosalind Vaughan, 55, of Stow Lodge, Stowmarket, had no need to lie to Mid Suffolk District Council officers, a court heard.

The pair appeared at Ipswich Crown Court last Thursday. Gibbs pleaded guilty to seven offences of dishonesty and fraud while Vaughan pleaded guilty to six similar offences.

A number of the charges related to a period in 2007 when the pair, who are not in a relationship, moved into a rented house in Barham that they said belonged to a Mr C Davidson.

But Sally Catton-Newell, prosecuting, said Mr Davidson did not exist and £42,000 in benefits had been paid out fraudulently.

The pair had already defrauded the council in 2003 when Vaughan claimed that Gibbs was her landlord when he was merely a tenant.

Gibbs and Vaughan, who had no previous convictions, are now living in Stowmarket. They lost the house in Barham once the fraudulent claims became known.

The final attempt, in January 2010, saw Gibbs claim that Vaughan was sub-letting him a room.

Stephen Dyble, in mitigation, said Vaughan had found it hard to rent privately as she was a single mother.

She and Gibbs claimed they had independent incomes in order to obtain the tenancy, which they believed they would be unable to do otherwise.

Mr Dyble said it was a ‘curious’ case because the pair would have still received housing benefit if they had declared their true circumstances. By lying, they had broken the law.

The money they received had gone on paying the rent, according to Mr Dyble.

Judge John Holt handed the pair eight months in prison suspended for two years.

They must also each complete 100 hours of unpaid community work and pay £500 towards the costs of the prosecution.