Three Brent residents convicted of benefit fraud

Retired court usher, buy-to let landlady and single father in the dock

A retired court usher, a buy-to-let landlady and a single father have all been convicted of benefit fraud.

Wood Green Crown Court heard Theresa McGroarty, of Chaplin Close, Wembley, claimed Housing and Council Tax benefit for more than 13 years after claiming her only income was from a state retirement pension.

However during a datamatching exercise, investigators discovered the 69-year-old was receiving a civil service pension of �200 - �280 a month from her former job as an usher at Harrow Crown Court.

Between July 1996 to December 2009, she pocketed �21,752.45 she was not entitled to.


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McGroarty admitted four charges of benefit fraud.

She and was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge, ordered to pay �1,200 towards legal costs at and is paying the sum back to the council in instalments.

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Brent Magistrates’ Court heard the cases of Sandra Harriott, 37, of Drayton Waye in Kenton Road, Kenton, and 45-year-old Robert Peel, of Press Road, Neasden.

Harriott claimed benefits citing she was on a low income just days after splashing out on a buy-to-let property in east London.

The mother-of-two received �25,000 in Housing and Council Tax benefits between May 2006 and June 2008.

She admitted three counts of benefit fraud and was sentenced to a 10-week jail term suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay �500 towards the council’s legal costs.

To date she has paid back �23,000 of her ill-gotten gains.

Peel admitted fraudulently claiming �8,546.99 in Housing and Council Tax benefit between February 2006 and July 2009.

The court heard the single father failed to declare he was receiving a �250 a month pension from Transport for London.

In a further twist, he chose to go to court by rejecting an administrative penalty where he would have avoided court if he paid back the sum plus a penalty of 30 per cent.

He received a conditional discharge for 12 months and was ordered to pay an additional �300 towards legal costs.

He must also pay back the overpaid benefits.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council’s lead member for resources, said: “The level of greed shown by these benefit thieves will no doubt appal Brent residents.

“I hope it will send a clear message to anyone else claiming benefits fraudulently: don’t do it or you will get caught and we will prosecute.”

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