Heavy smoker avoids jail after pleading guilty to benefit fraud

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PEOPLE aware of others cheating the benefit system are being urged to contact the authorities after a 65-year-old chain smoker narrowly avoid jail last month.

On Friday, April 13, Robert Goldsmith, of Woodfield, Banbury pleaded guilty to benefit fraud after claiming £22,940 in benefits he was not entitled to from South Northants Council and Cherwell District Council.

Banbury Magistrates heard Goldsmith failed to reveal he was receiving a civil service pension when he made claims for housing and council tax benefits between October 2006 and March 2011.

Magistrates were told he used the money to fund a particularly heavy smoking habit.

He received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a four-month curfew, and ordered to pay the money back along with council court costs of £500.

Martin Henry, director of resources for both councils, said: “Housing and council tax benefit fraud is treated very seriously at both authorities and will be pursued as far as possible in all cases. Dishonestly claiming such benefits is a drain on local and national resources and will not be tolerated.

“I would encourage anyone who is aware of any fraudulent activity to call the confidential fraud hotline.”

The freephone hotline is 0800 716152. Alternatively call SNC on 01327 322173.