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Court orders jailed former tenant to pay Council compensation for tenancy fraud

A former tenant who fraudulently obtained a council property by providing false information has been ordered by a judge to pay thousands of pounds back to Swindon Borough Council.

Published: Wednesday, 18th September 2019

John Bristow was jailed for two years at Swindon Crown Court back in March after pleading guilty to fraud following a detailed investigation by the Council’s in-house fraud team.

The investigation found that between October 2005 and May 2017, Mr Bristow dishonestly obtained accommodation at Imber Walk in Penhill by falsely claiming that he had lived at Abbey View Road since August 2003 when he in fact had a tenancy for, and had been living at, The Bakers Arms, Beechcroft Road, since 1 April 2005.

He then sub-let the Imber Walk property, while still living at The Bakers Arms, between November 2011 and October 2017, where a new tenant agreed to pay him £400 each month.

At a recent hearing at Swindon Crown Court a compensation order was made against Bristow where he was told by Judge Crabtree to pay the Council compensation totalling £4,688.29, this being the total amount of assets he was found to possess.

Despite the Council making a costs application of £19,319.79, Bristow was ordered to pay a contribution towards the Council’s legal costs of £1,000 at a rate of £40 per month. This was due to the fact Bristow is in custody and costs are paid according to means.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “I hope Mr Bristow’s sentencing and our subsequent application to recover costs and compensation sends a warning to anyone who may be tempted to defraud the Council in this way.

“The property Mr Bristow sub-let could have been used by someone else in genuine need of housing and I am pleased that after a long investigation we managed to uncover his web of lies which cost the Council a considerable sum of money.

“I would encourage anyone who suspects that a council property is being sub-let or misused to contact our Fraud Team on 01793 464690 or email reportfraud@swindon.gov.uk. Suspected fraud can also be reported online on the Corporate Fraud page of the Council’s website.”

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