Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The 'Ordinary Life' of Pounds 15k Benefit Cheat

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The 'Ordinary Life' of Pounds 15k Benefit Cheat

Article excerpt

Byline: SAM BEATTIE

A PILLAR of the community bought a house while swindling more than pounds 15,000 in benefits, a court has heard.

John Thompson, 58, pretended his wife had left him when she was living under the same roof in Thorntree, Middlesbrough. The former steelworker falsely claimed housing and council tax benefit over a period of 10 years.

But a complicated paper chase by fraud investigators brought his lifetime of good character to an end - and resulted in a suspended jail sentence at Teesside Crown Court.

Thompson, who was involved in a local community council and had "some standing in the local community", led a modest lifestyle despite claiming the pounds 15,624, the court was told.

However, he bought his council house in 2004, six years after he began stealing from the public purse by claiming he lived alone. Investigators dug up finance arrangements for Sky TV and credit on a new three-piece suite which linked his wife, Kathleen, to the same address in Barrington Crescent. …

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