Sentenced: Westminster Council tenant and illegal subtenant convicted of fraud
- Credit: Archant
A man and a woman who pretended to be a couple to hide their council flat subletting scam from Westminster Council have been convicted in a landmark case.
Raymond Whittard had been illegally renting his council flat in Cuthbert House on the Hall Park Estate, Paddington, to Sharon Smith since at least 2010.
This is the first time a tenant and a subtenant have both been hauled before the courts.
When fraudbusters from Westminster Council started asking question the pair pretended to be a couple despite Smith living at the flat with her boyfriend and Whittard living in a house he bought in Altringham, Cheshire.
An investigation uncovered the truth and police raided their homes and arrested them for fraud offences.
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Both admitted the charges and on Monday Smith was given a nine months suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 140 hours community work.
Whittard received a 10 month suspended sentence and must do 150 hours community work.
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Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for housing and regeneration for Westminster Council, said: “This landmark case just demonstrates the extraordinary lengths people will go to commit fraud. Every property that is unlawfully sublet deprives a family of housing and makes the waiting list longer. Fraudsters of this nature put a tremendous strain on council resources at this time of reductions in council budgets and we are doing all we can to tackle this activity in Westminster.”