Chesterfield benefits cheat who swindled £28k avoids prison

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A benefits cheat who swindled taxpayers out of £28,000 has narrowly avoided a prison sentence.

Robert Murphy, 52, of Potters Close, Old Whittington, admitted he had not declared income from a private pension and had received overpayments of council tax and housing benefit over a ten-year period from 2004 to 2014.

Sentencing him on Thursday, the chief magistrate found there was a serious long-term avoidance of declaring his full income, which was deliberate from the outset.

Murphy claimed he had been advised that it was not necessary to declare the income from the pension.

He was given a 24-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and will be under curfew between 7pm and 7am until next February.

In addition, he must pay back the money he claimed fraudulently and will pay instalments each week.

Murphy was also ordered to pay an extra £100 in costs.

Councillor Ken Huckle, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for business transformation, said: “I hope this prosecution gives a clear message that it is a serious offence to claim benefits when you are not entitled to them.

“Anyone who is making a benefit claim should read the forms carefully before filling them out and declare all of the information they are asked.

“Anyone who is unsure should contact our benefits team for advice.”

Report benefits cheats by calling the Government’s hotline on 0800 854 440.