Norwich benefit cheats in court
Matthew SparkesA Norwich couple who claimed benefits to which they were not entitled were ordered to carry out a total of 180 hours of unpaid work.Matthew Sparkes
A Norwich couple who claimed benefits to which they were not entitled have been ordered to carry out a total of 180 hours of unpaid work.
David Matthews, 53, and Pauline Clarke, 61, pleaded guilty to dishonesty yesterday at Norwich Crown Court.
Mr Matthews admitted six counts of dishonesty and making false statements, while Miss Clarke admitted one count of dishonesty.
Their deceit came to light when Mr Matthews applied for a renewal to his taxi licence, while also claiming unemployment benefits.
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An investigation was launched and it was discovered that the pair had also been living together on Manby Road, Heartsease, and claiming housing benefit as though they were living apart.
Over a period of several years, the court heard, Miss Clarke was overpaid �2,651 in housing benefits, while Mr Matthews was overpaid �340 in housing benefit and over �100 in council tax benefit.
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Michael Clare, defending, admitted that the deception had gone on for a "staggering amount of time".
"He's brought it on himself," he said, but added that Mr Matthews had made efforts to correct his mistake.
Mr Clare said that the couple had been mistakenly told by friends that Mr Matthews could earn money up to a threshold of �80 per week and still claim unemployment benefit.
Matthews has since repaid the extra benefits he was given to which he was not entitled , and Miss Clarke was also repaying �40 per week.
At the hearing at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, Judge Paul Downes said: "It has put everyone to a lot of expense."
He sentenced Mr Matthews to 60 hours of unpaid work and ordered him to pay back �100 in costs.
Speaking on Miss Clarke's case, he said that it was a "substantially larger amount" and handed down 120 hours of unpaid work and ordered her to pay �200 costs.
Both will pay the authorities �10 per week until the ordered costs are covered.