Thorpe Astley man narrowly avoids jail following conviction of benefit fraud

Photo: Scales of JusticeFather-of-two, Ben Lally, 27, from Thorpe Astley, who dishonestly claimed nearly £10,000 from Blaby District Council over 3 ½ years, has narrowly avoided jail.

Ben Lally was sentenced at Leicester Magistrates Court 6th March 2015, having pleaded Guilty to 9 charges of benefit fraud at an earlier hearing.

Between June 2010 and March 2014, Lally falsely claimed £7,421.06 in Housing Benefit, £1,381.82 Council Tax Benefit and a further £681.51 in Council Tax Support. During that time, he under declared his earnings and provided counterfeit pay slips, forged letters & certificates of earnings from his employer.

Magistrates stated

“Mr Lally you are a very lucky man today. There can be no doubt of the planning and sophistication of the offending. The only thing in your favour was that it was not false from the outset.”

“You do not have any previous convictions for dishonesty; you also show very apparent remorse. You were diagnosed at a young age with a debilitating disease and started to panic. You are the sole earner for your wife and two small children; you get a full 1/3 credit for your guilty plea.

“We therefore sentence you to 26 weeks custody, the maximum available sentence in this court, which we wholly suspend for the maximum period of 2 years. There is one requirement, which is for you to complete 150 hours of unpaid work within 12 months. You will pay a victim surcharge of £80 and the costs of the prosecution in full of £1,374.40, at £50pcm, a Collection Order will also be imposed.”

Mr Lally was warned that the Court costs were a priority debt. Magistrates again stated they could not stress how lucky he had been, the offence is so serious that custody was the only option.

Photo Cllr. Richardson

Cllr. Terry Richardson

Councillor Terry Richardson, Finance and Efficiency portfolio holder at Blaby District Council, said:

“Not only has Mr Lally got to repay all the stolen monies, he now has a criminal record and court costs to pay.

“It is extremely important that people claiming benefit tell us about any change in their circumstances. We will always take action against people who try to abuse the system.

“Those who are claiming money they are not entitled to should be prepared to face the consequences.”

Anyone with any information relating to benefit fraud, please call Blaby District Council’s 24 hour confidential benefit fraud hotline on 0116 2727733 or complete the online benefit fraud allegation form at www.blaby.gov.uk/fraud

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