No jail for £30,000 benefit cheat
6:10pm Saturday 13th October 2012 in County News
A man who illegally claimed almost £30,000 in benefits after failing to declare a change in his circumstances avoided prison on Monday.
Steven Roy Jeffrey, aged 58, of Vineyard Vale, Valley Road, Saundersfoot, admitted failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions and Pembrokeshire County Council that he was living with his partner from December 15th, 2008, to January 31st, 2012.
The court heard that Jeffrey had claimed £29,451.81 in tax, housing and income support benefits over three years, while living with Heather Jenkins, who worked as a nursing assistant at Glangwili Hospital.
Prosecutor David Weale said: “Despite knowing that he had to notify of these changes, he managed to bury his head in the sand.”
He added: “He knew the distinction between a friendship and an intimate relationship, showing his knowledge and guile by not declaring those matters.”
Allan Maguire, who carried out a probation report on Jeffrey, said the defendant didn’t think he was defrauding the system because his partner was living with him rent-free.
He added: “The main victim, apart from the local community, is his partner, who is now having to pay rent and his fines.”
Mr Maguire said that Jeffrey was not actively looking for work, but if “something came along he would consider it” because “at his age it’s not worth looking”.
Matthew Greenish, defending, said that Jeffrey suffered from depression and anxiety because he was a long-term carer for his disabled wife, who died in 2007.
And after starting a friendship with Miss Jenkins, which later progressed into a relationship, he continued claiming as a single person, despite receiving regular leaflets explaining conditions as to payment.
Last week, District Judge Manning-Davies refused to deal with Jeffrey’s case because he believed that his sentencing powers were inadequate.
On Monday, magistrates sentenced Jeffrey to a two year community order with supervision, a thinking skills course and 300 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £100 costs.