Retford: Three-month community order for benefit cheat

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A Retford man has been prosecuted for three offences after he admitted deliberately claiming benefit that he was not entitled to.

Robert Dennis Merrills, of West Drayton Farm, Retford, appeared before Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on 18th November 2014 after he repeatedly failed to notify Bassetlaw District Council of changes in his employment circumstances, while still claiming housing benefit.

Merrills was sentenced to a three-month community order, during which time he must report to the probation department and may be required to undertake unpaid work, in addition to a three-month curfew order which will be enforced between the hours of 8pm and 5am.

Coun Sylvia May, cabinet member for corporate and support services, said: “I welcome the sentence handed down by Mansfield Magistrates and I hope this sends a strong message to the public that fraudulent benefit claims - under any circumstance - will not be accepted.”

“It defrauds the tax payer and places those genuinely entitled to support in a greater difficulty.”

Merrills will also be required to pay back the overpayment of £7,043,61 as well as £300 in prosecution costs.

He was in receipt of housing benefit from 11th October 2010 on the basis that he was employed, but on a low income.

In May of 2011, he notified the council that he was on sick leave from his place of employment. However, the council became concerned that the information upon which his claim was being paid was incorrect, and details of his earnings were obtained from his employers.

In his interview on 14th January 2014, Merrills said his failure to update the council of his change in circumstances were that he had a number of debts that needed to be repaid.