A man who fraudulently claimed more than £8,000 in benefits has been given a two-year supervision order and told to repay the money.
Stewart McHugh, 45, formerly of Dandy Farm, Mill Lane, Prestbury, was further ordered to do 250 hours’ unpaid community work after being found guilty in his absence of two counts of housing benefit fraud.
McHugh appeared at Macclesfield Magistrates Court on May 13, 2014 – a day after being arrested. He had originally been due to appear before magistrates on May 2, but failed to attend.
The court heard McHugh had claimed housing benefit based on him being in receipt of jobseekers’ allowance.
However, an investigation by Cheshire East Council’s benefit fraud investigation team discovered that he had left the property for which he was claiming housing benefit and had also started work. The overpayment of benefits totalled £8,235.
McHugh was sentenced to a two-year community order with a requirement to do 250 hours’ unpaid work. He was further ordered to repay the overpaid benefits at £25 per week and pay £300 for the Council’s court costs.
McHugh has now moved to St Helens.
Councillor Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of finance, said: “Benefit fraud is quite simply wrong – and will not be tolerated by this authority.
“We are an enforcing Council and in the last financial year we successfully prosecuted more than 30 benefits offenders. We are committed to ensuring these people are brought to justice.
“This prosecution, and others like it, sends out a clear message that we will take firm action to protect our communities from those who cheat the system at the expense of honest taxpayers.”
If you think someone is committing benefit fraud, you can ring the confidential freephone fraud hotline on 0800 389 2787. You don’t have to give your name and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, you can report suspected fraud via the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk