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Bulphan couple in the dock after scrounging nearly £100,000 in benefits
1:00pm Saturday 11th August 2012 in News
A COUPLE who scrounged almost £100,000 in benefits by pretending they were living on the breadline, actually owned several plush homes in south Essex, a villa in Spain and even a yacht.
Jet-setters Paul Hoyle and Kim Burrell fleeced the public purse of £97,000 in benefits they weren’t entitled to over a six year period.
Although the pair pleaded poverty they owned three homes in Bulphan, Thurrock, properties in Alicante, Spain and Loire Atlandtique in France, a lavish catamaran and drove around in an E type Jag.
Their complex web of deceit which involved Hoyle inventing false identities, fictitious landlords and tenancy agreements, to claim housing and council tax benefit was finally unravelled after the 72- year- old- made a paperwork mistake.
For her part Burrell, 52, claimed she was a single mother struggling to make ends meets when in fact she lived with Hoyle in their £300,000 home in Albert Road, Bulphan.
She also claimed a raft of benefits from 2004 to 2010 to which she wasn’t entitled- hiding the fact she had £16,000 in one bank account alone.
The court heard how Hoyle and Burrell - who had a baby girl together in 2005 - carried out a “sophisticated scam”, with Hoyle contstantly transferring the deeds to their three homes over to alias names such as “James Ward” He also obtained passport and identity cards in alias names to back up the sham.
An investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions and Thurrock Council was launched after Hoyle let his guard down and signed a housing registry document in his own name.
Officials then found a number of bank accounts in the UK and Spain opened by the couple, as well as a paperwork trail of their oversees properties and mooring fees for their yacht.
The pair found themselves in the dock at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday to be sentenced for their crimes.
Hoyle, who was said to be “in frail health” and has a pacemaker fitted admitted 10 counts of benefit fraud as well as falsifying documents.
His honour Judge John Lodge said: “You have abused our benefits system. It is there to help the most needy of society, not for criminals to abuse it.”
Burrell, who also has two children from a previous relationship, was given an eight month suspended prison sentence after admitting nine offences of benefit fraud.
She was also told to carry out 200 hours of community service.
The mum who sat in the dock weeping, was depicted as a “naive”and “vulnerable “character by her defence team who had endured physical abuse in a past marriage.
However Judge Lodge told her; “I am far from convinced you are as naive as some people make out.
“You played your part in this.”
The couple have been warned they will have to sell their properties to pay back the £97,217 they fleeced.
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