Council house fraudster who owned home under right to buy handed suspended sentence
A fraudster who obtained a council house by failing to declare he already owned a home has received a suspended sentence.
Martin Christopher Sherwin was given a three-bedroom house in the Broadway, in Norton, Stourbridge, by Dudley Council.
A court heard that the 48-year-old failed to disclose he already owned a home in the Sandwell borough – also a former council house – which he had purchased under the Right to Buy scheme.
It would have then ruled him out of being offered a Dudley Council property.
Sherwin, who was given the Stourbridge property in 2013, went on to apply to purchase it in November 2018, again through Right to Buy.
He would have benefitted from a discount of more than £60,000 if he had been successful, the court heard.
But the court was told that the application highlighted some inconsistencies with data – and further checks confirmed Sherwin already owned a property in Sandwell.
The case against Sherwin, brought by Dudley Council, should have been dealt with via a live Skype link with Wolverhampton Crown Court on April 2, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But due to technical problems, and the need for social distancing, it was dealt with over the phone.
Sherwin, of the Broadway, pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud and received a 20 month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 30 days of unpaid work and pay £4,000 costs.
Councillor Laura Taylor, Dudley Council's cabinet member for housing, said: "This was unacceptable behaviour from a man who already had a home and, by taking another one, deprived a family on the waiting list who really needed it.
"It sends a strong message that we will not tolerate anyone trying to abuse the system to make financial gain.
"Our housing fraud team is currently in the process of recovering possession of the home, which will then be made available to an applicant in need and eligible from our waiting list."
Residents can report people who they suspect may have or are committing housing fraud by calling Dudley Council Plus on 0300 555 2345, the Fraud Hotline on 01384 814242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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