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Men jailed for benefit fraud
6:04pm Tuesday 4th September 2012 in News
TWO men have been jailed for five months after being convicted of benefit fraud amounting to nearly £40,000.
Ian Coomber, aged 61, of Egerton Drive, Sale, and Jonathon Cleal, aged 53, of Swan Road, Timperley, have been convicted of dishonestly obtaining housing benefit.
The fraud took place between April 1998 and June 2011.
Coomber claimed that he was paying rent to Trafford Council worker Cleal for a room in his property and Cleal had provided letters to Trafford Council confirming that he was charging Coomber rent.
However, an investigation conducted by the benefit fraud team at the council established that a commercial arrangement had not existed, and that the money being claimed was being used to meet their normal living expenses.
On August 2, Mr Coomber and Mr Cleal appeared at Manchester Crown Court and entered guilty pleas to a total of 14 offences and on August 30 they were both given custodial sentences of five months.
His Honour Judge Lever said: "Both of you were feathering your own nest at the expense of the taxpayer. It was fraudulent from the outset.
“Both of you fraudulently got the benefit and you didn't stop it. I sentence you both to five months' immediate custody. It will be borne in mind by everyone who is on the fiddle who thinks that nothing worse will happen to them apart from a few hours of community service. It was classic greed from middle-class dishonest people."
In addition to his custodial sentence, Coomber is required to repay all the money that he falsely obtained.
Cleal has been dismissed from his post at Trafford Council’s legal and democratic services department.
Council counter fraud officers were alerted to this matter following a data matching exercise.
Executive councillor Sean Anstee said: "This sends out a strong message that benefit fraud will not be tolerated in Trafford - if you steal from the public purse to line your own pockets, you will pay the price. Those who falsely claim benefits to which they are not entitled are in effect taking away from people in real need."
If you suspect anyone of benefit fraud, contact Trafford Council on 0161 912 2852 or via Freefone number 0800 328 6340.