A 34-year-old Limavady man who dishonestly failed to notify the Housing Executive about a change in his circumstances after he got married continued to claim there was no one living with him, receiving housing benefit of more than £13,000, a court has heard.
Gregory Young from Mount Eden was sentenced to 160 hours community service at Limavady Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for failing to declare a change in his circumstances between 24 September 2010 and 31 August 2014 with a view to obtaining housing benefit for himself, or another, knowing that it would affect his entitlement to benefit.
The court heard Young was observed sharing a property with his partner during several dates in July and August 2014. The court heard investigations discovered Young’s partner had several accounts linked to the address.
During interview, Young said he had an “on off relationship” with his partner and had married in Cyprus in 2010, but said there were issues and they were not co-habiting at the address in Limavady. The total amount claimed was £13,873.25. The court on Wednesday heard £3,000 has been paid back.
Defence solicitor David Brewster said Young and his partner had a somewhat unusual relationship where, for periods, they kept separate addresses, but said he should have disclosed that. He said Young accepted the offence with candour. Mr Brewster said Young knew he had placed himself in very real jeopardy.
District Judge Liam McNally said it was “as bad an offence of this nature as I’ve come across”. He said from the time Young married he had told the Department there was no-one living with him and “that was a patent lie”.
Mr McNally said he would take into account Young’s clear record, that £3,000 had been re-paid and Young had an arrangement to repay the remainder. Rather than sentence Young to prison, Mr McNally said society would be better served by Young completing community service.