Droitwich man escapes jail despite £25,000 benefit fraud - The Droitwich Standard

Droitwich man escapes jail despite £25,000 benefit fraud

Droitwich Editorial 26th Aug, 2014 Updated: 17th Oct, 2016   0

A DROITWICH man has been convicted of benefit fraud for failing to declare cash he and his wife jointly held in a number of undisclosed bank accounts.

It related to overpayments of £17,744.39 worth of income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance, along with £7,611.15 in housing benefit and council tax benefit. The £25,355.54 was received between April 2009 and February 2013.

The prosecution of Terence Carl Loveridge, aged 51, who is currently living at the Doverdale Park Homes site in Hampton Lovett, was brought after lengthy joint investigations by Wychavon District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

He had claimed the benefits for a property he and his wife rent and, when he submitted his applications, he only gave details of some the cash he had saved. The amount he actually had was far in excess of the £16,000 upper limit, meaning he did not qualify for those benefits.

In interview, Mr Loveridge repeatedly denied the money was theirs, claiming it was a banking error. His wife was also interviewed and also denied the money was theirs.

Later Crown Court hearings, after the case was successfully referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), saw both Mr and Mrs Loveridge enter ‘not guilty’ pleas and their cases were set for trial.

Just before the trial, Mr Loveridge offered a guilty plea if the Crown agreed to drop the charges against his wife. The CPS agreed to offer no evidence against Mrs Loveridge and His Honour Richard Rundell directed the jury, who by that time had already been sworn in, to accept the plea and find Loveridge guilty.

Last Friday (August 22), after the case had been adjourned for sentencing, Mr Loveridge was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and was ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He was also told to pay £2,500 towards the prosecution costs within 12 months.

Prosecuting, David Iles QC said if the Loveridges’ trial had gone ahead, the basis of their defence was that more than £50,000 was put aside for the purchase of the mobile home they lived in, from Mrs Loveridge’s mother.

However, he pointed out that at the time he made his claims – in April 2009 – Loveridge held more than £83,500 jointly with his wife in various undisclosed accounts.

Two days before Mr Loveridge was due to be interviewed bu the DWP and council investigators about the allegations of undisclosed capital, two of the accounts were later closed and more than £53,000 was withdrawn.

Sentencing him, Judge Rundell said he was quite satisfied Mr Loveridge had claimed dishonestly, fully knowing about the accounts. He said it was self-delusion that the money was in trust for his mother-in-law.

He granted Loveridge credit for having no previous convictions and because he entered a late guilty plea.

Mr Loveridge has already fully repaid back all of the overpayments to both the DWP and Wychavon.

Nick Jefferies, Wychavon District Council’s partnership director, said the amount of money available to help legitimate claimants was limited and Loveridge’s case was a deliberate attempt to claim benefits which he and his wife knew they were not entitled to.

He added benefit fraud was not a victimless crime and the case showed how those cheating the system would be caught and prosecuted, where appropriate.

“Cheats create higher council tax bills and higher taxes for everyone else,” he said.

Those claiming housing or council tax support who want to check if they are entitled to their benefits can call Wychavon District Council on 03004 560560 for advice. (Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call).

Anyone wanting to report a case of benefit fraud in Wychavon District can email [email protected] or call 01386 565280.


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