Man, 31, jailed over £10k benefits fraud

Preston Magistrates Court
Preston Magistrates Court
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A serial fraudster has been jailed - again - after a court found him guilty of a string of benefit frauds shortly after his release from another prison term.

Michael Robert Gardner, 31, of Barry Avenue, Ingol, Preston, defrauded the public purse to the tune of £10,500, after failing to declare he was living with a partner, whom he then married in 2011.

Thousands of pounds of overpayments were made to the convicted fraudster, including £4,502 overpaid in Housing Benefit and £996 in overpayments in Council Tax Benefit from Preston City Council.

He was also convicted over around a total of £4,500 in overpayments in Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Both bodies prosecuted Gardner at Preston Magistrates Court but he denied the offences, some of which dated back to 2010.

However he was jailed for 26 weeks after being convicted of six counts of fraud by dishonestly failing to disclose details affecting his benefit entitlements, after a trial.

The bench said custody was necessary because the offences were “serious” and “fraudulent from the outset”.

They also cited his previous convictions for fraud, the “multiplicity of offences” and his recent release from prison for similar offences,

Today, a Preston City Council spokesman said: “We take all reports of Benefit Fraud very seriously.

“We have systems and procedures in place to identify fraud and work closely with the DWP and other bodies.

“We encourage residents to make reports of benefit fraud to our hotline on 0800 854440.”