Benefits cheat claims she’s ‘unfit’ to do community service

A benefits cheat who falsely £78,000 claims she is ‘unfit’ to complete her community service.


Kathryn Leathard, 30, pretended to be a single mum for five years in order to get tax credits, income support, council tax benefit and housing benefit.


However, authorities found she had been living with her partner.


Leathard admitted three benefit fraud charges in November last year.


The mother-of-three, of Prudhoe was given a suspended 12-month jail term and was ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work.


Leathard, however, says she has been assessed as ‘unfit for work.’


Furthermore, she did not attend court claiming she was ‘too anxious.’

Sentencing her, Judge Stephen Earl said, “Let’s be clear – this is public money you defrauded the Government and the public out of.”



Russian oligarch loses divorce battle

A Russian oligarch immersed in Britain’s most expensive divorce has lost a crucial court battle to avoid paying his ex-wife more than £450m.

Farkhad Akhmedov refused to pay his ex the huge sum after claiming he was already divorced when they lived in Moscow.

After he refused to accept a ruling by a British court that he pay her half his fortune, his ex-wife Tatiana attempted to seize his super yacht Luna in lieu of payment.

At present the £353m yacht is being held at a port in Dubai for the duration of the legal battle over its ownership.

A Russian Court of Appeal rejected Akhmedov’s attempts to prove he was divorced in 2000 in Moscow.

Akhmedov claimed the papers were lost, but the court rejected his appeal saying he had failed to submit ‘sufficient and credible’ evidence over their existence.

Lawyers for Tatiana welcomed the decision by the Moscow Court of Appeal.

Yuri Kuznetsov, acting for Ms Akhmedov in Moscow, said, “We are relieved that this nonsensical claim can finally be put to bed.

“Three courts have now reached the conclusion that the only divorce granted to Ms Akhmedov was that finalised in London in 2016 and the Moscow City Court’s decision is closing the net on his increasingly desperate attempts to avoid accepting that reality.”


Mother in dispute with son over family estate

A woman and her estranged son are immersed in a courtroom dispute over a family estate.

After Stephen Moore was written out of his parents will, he successfully challenged the move in 2016, claiming his father, who now lives in a care home and has advanced dementia, repeatedly promised the estate would all be his one day.

Challenging the 2016 decision at the Appeal Court, Pamela Moore’s barrister Christopher Pymont said: “Pamela is the wife in a successful marriage of 50 years with rights to a half share of anything her husband had, should it come to it.”

Mr Pymont added that her husband had full mental capacity when he changed his will and had intended “to protect Pamela” if he died first.

The mother of three has the right to live in her home until her death and has an income from her son. But she is angry she no longer owns or controls any of the family land or money.

Mr Pymont said, “The effect of the judge’s order is that Pamela has no assets left. Roger would have made sure Pamela was well provided for.”

He also said the ruling forced the pair to live “locked together”.

He added: “Where you have parties so divided, it is simply not practical to be living right on top of one another. She’d rather live somewhere else.”


Man confesses to benefit fraud

A man from Renfrewshire has admitted claiming benefits on his mother’s behalf that she was not entitled to.

Stewart Connelly who was authorised to act on behalf of his mother, Amelia Connelly, failed to disclose all her savings.

He told Renfrewshire Council she had a bank account which contained £6,367 in savings, but she actually had six other accounts and savings totalling more than £43,000, taking her over the £16,000 allowance for people being allowed to claim Housing Benefit.

Amelia Connelly received £12,000 in Housing Benefit she was not entitled to.

The Department of Work and Pensions launched an investigation which led to Stewart, 56, being prosecuted.

Benefits cheat who said he couldn’t wash own hair filmed hauling tables

An ex- Tory councillor who claimed he could not even wash his own hair was secretly filmed hauling away tables at a summer fair.

Albert Pounder, 74, illegally claimed £10,422 in Disability Living Allowance from 2014 to 2016 and £467 housing benefit in 2016.

Preston Crown Court heard he failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that his mobility has improved.

Pounder narrowly avoided jail after being convicted of two benefit frauds following a DWP investigation. He was given a 26-week suspended jail sentence and a 12-week electronic curfew, between the hours of 9pm-7am.

A DWP spokesperson said, “Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest.

“But cases like these show how we are catching the minority who cheat the system and divert taxpayers’ money from those who need it.

“We are determined to catch those we suspect of fraudulently claiming benefits by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils.”


£145,000 benefit fraud mum avoids jail

A woman who claimed £144,977.88 in benefits she was not entitled to over a six-and-a-half year period has avoided jail.

Pauline Donaghy, 42, was handed a 12-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years and she is now paying back £25 a week.

Belfast Crown Court noted it will take around 100 years to repay the money.

Judge RoseAnn McCormick said, “The overpayment appears to have been one of the largest ever prosecuted here.”

Donaghy claimed Housing Benefit and Income Support she was not entitled to.

She admitted obtaining Housing Benefit between February 2009 and August 2015 and failing to notify the Social Security Agency that she was living with her partner, and of obtaining Income Support between January 2009 and June 2015 in the same circumstances.

The court heard Donaghy’s partner was named as the landlord of the property, but that investigations revealed they were living together in the house “as husband and wife.” The court also heard that Donaghy’s partner had been in full time employment from 2000 until the detection in 2015.

Judge McCormick added that “this matter has been hanging over her head, and that has been an obvious burden on her” and she acknowledged Donaghy had engaged with medical services to address her “chronic depression and anxiety.” Judge McCormick also said the money was used “for household expenses.”

Handing Donaghy a 12-month sentence, the Judge concluded, “Her personal circumstances should be given considering weight, and accordingly I am suspending the sentence for a period of two years.”



Council in process of recovering nearly £300k lost to benefit fraud

Over £296,000 in benefits were claimed fraudulently or in error over the past year from West Dunbartonshire Council.

Their corporate fraud team identified the money as part of 228 referrals from members of the public, 199 of which had grounds to be investigated.

15 cases have been passed on to the procurator fiscal which has resulted in six people so far receiving a criminal conviction.

One person has been fined and a further five have been given community work orders.

Four more referred cases are yet to be heard.

Administrative penalties totalling £7,533 were issued in less serious cases.

As part of their investigation work, the team also prevented £734,118 being lost to the council through benefits, discounts, homeless accommodation and council tenancies.

A total of £7,754 in fraudulent claims was made to the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Three council houses were recovered from residents not occupying the property as their primary home. This meant the properties were freed up for genuine families in need.

Other work included 122 blue badges cancelled and fraudulent or incorrect claims for single person’s discount for council tax ended.



Woman in court over £11,000 benefit fraud

A 63-year-old woman was in court for an £11,000 benefit fraud.

Marie Lawson was overpaid £11,169 over a two-year period between May 2014 and March 2016.

Lawson claimed employment support allowance for herself and her husband from October 2013.

The benefits were paid out on the condition that she did not work more than 16 hours per week.

Lawson, however, did not tell the Department for Work and Pensions when she started regularly working beyond that limit.

Lawson admitted failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances affecting benefits.


She has already repaid almost £5,700 to the government.

She told investigators she was offered more hours and was concerned she would be sacked if she did not take them.

Duncan McReddie, defending, said,

For a woman who has lived a law-abiding life this is a very difficult process.

“The circumstances leading up to the offence are a combination of events beyond her control.

“She accepts a failure on her part to act as she should have done. She felt very much under pressure at the time.”

Judge Peter Armstrong told Lawson, “I have to sentence you for benefit fraud which went on over a period of about two years.

“I think you’d simply got used to the money. You were obviously well thought of by your employer who wanted you to work even more. You were tempted to do that and did so.

“When you were challenged about these matters you made full admissions. You pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity. You have no previous convictions.

“Sadly you’ve lost your good character but I take very much into account the genuine remorse that you’ve expressed for this offending.”

Lawson received a one-year community order with 100 hours’ unpaid work.


Landlord taken to court over boiler and oven

A Hyndburn landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence after failing to check an unsafe boiler and gas.

Steven Ladell, from Great Harwood, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after serious faults were uncovered at a house in King’s Lynn last year.

One of his tenants had approached housing standards officials at King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Council, complaining about the state of his boiler and oven.

HSE inspectors found the boiler and oven to be in a poor state of repair and to be unsafe.

Ladell was brought to court after he failed to provide any paperwork showing routine safety checks and servicing had been undertaken.

Ladell pleaded guilty to breaching gas safety regulations and to breaching an improvement notice.

He was given a 20-week prison sentence by magistrates, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 100 hours community service.

Ladell was further ordered to pay court costs of £4,146.




Man, 70, sentenced for benefit fraud

A 70-year-old man has been sentenced after wrongly claiming almost £20,000 in benefits, assisted by his wife who was herself a benefit fraud investigator.

Paul Stevens told the Department for Work and Pensions that he needed help bathing, dressing, cooking and getting in and out of bed.

Stevens claimed he was in constant pain, needed crutches to get around and could walk only 40 to 60 yards at a time after suffering severe back pain for more than 20 years.

However, DWP investigators saw footage of Stevens on a zip wire in a play park.

He was further filmed pruning a tree with a saw and kneeling as he gardened.

The court heard that his wife Alexandra, 49, a DWP investigator, filled in his forms and helped him “cut corners” allowing him to start claiming Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence to which he was not entitled.

The couple, who had recently inherited £240,000, were convicted of fraud.

They were given suspended sentences at Chelmsford crown court.