Exmouth retired lawyer fiddled housing benefits

12:12 20 July 2012

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 0613-21-12AW

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 0613-21-12AW

Archant

A retired lawyer, 76, fiddled thousands of pounds in housing benefits, leaving an Exmouth landlord out of pocket.

An American pensioner who fiddled housing benefits left an Exmouth landlord out of pocket because of a ‘’sham’ rental agreement.

Edward Heller, 76, now of St Andrews Road, was jailed for six months, suspended for two years at Exeter Crown Court, after making a fraudulent claim for housing benefit, receiving more than £19,000 from East Devon District Council.

He was also given a 12-month supervision order and three-month curfew.

The court heard how retired Florida lawyer Heller, who pleaded guilty to one count of using a false instrument, used his legal training to construct a web of lies.

He duped the council into believing he was renting a flat at The Beacon, Exmouth, from a company called The Russian Cambridge Institute Ltd.

The police later found the company claiming to help Russian farmers fund equipment had been set up by Heller - and he had sub-let the privately-owned flat to himself.

Creating a new identity for himself, Heller, who personally had a poor credit rating, posed as company director Russkiye Podsolnukhi, signing documents in that name.

The district council funded the flat for two-and-half years before Heller’s lies came to light.

Mr David Sapiecha, prosecuting, said it was a ‘sham agreement’ where the council believed the landlord was the Russian Cambridge Institute.

The real landlord was Exmouth builder and businessman Nicholas Eyres. He was left thousands of pounds out of pocket when Heller began keeping the rent paid to the fictitious company by the council.

The court heard how Heller failed to pay rent to Mr Eyres for 18 months, pocketing £7,500 of housing benefits.

Mr Sapiecha said: “The real benefit to him was when he stopped paying the landlord. Housing benefit was still being paid to him. He wasn’t passing it on.”

Greg Richardson, defending, said the Cambridge Russian Institute was a registered company.

He said Heller, a man of no previous convictions, would have had a legal right to housing benefit had he rented the flat in his own name.

The court heard the defendant’s poor credit rating prevented him from doing so.

In passing sentence Judge Phillip Wassall hoped Heller would use the time to ‘reflect on his attitude’

The judge refused to look at documentation created by Heller, saying: “I cannot rely on a word you say. You have put together a web of deception around this company and I am not going to listen to it.

“You have drawn the landlord and the local authority into it and the fact you now present yourself as an innocent victim and your landlord as responsible is breathtakingly arrogant.

“I still do not know if you are delusional and believe it all or whether you are a cold, and calculating fraudster.”

Speaking after court officer in the case Detective Constable Blain Bishop said Heller’s legal knowledge had been his advantage.

“He used his knowledge of the law to exploit and bully East Devon District Council, the landlord, letting agent and all sorts of people,” said DC Bishop.

“In interview he did claim that much of the information was subject to legal privilege. That was fantasy and rubbish.”

0 comments

Other News Stories

27 minutes ago
A book written by the late Barbara Smale was handed over to local school children at the Exmouth library this week. The youngsters from Exeter Road primary are pictured with their headteacher Paul Gosling, Chris Launder from the library, Barbara's husband Colin, illustrator Jemma Cholawo, publishers Rachel and Drummond Johnstone and Judy Vallance who sponsored the publication. The book will be given out free to local schools. Ref exe 3280-15-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Children from Exeter Road Community Primary School have got their hands on a new book written by an Exmouth author.

Read more
09:00
Clare Teal at the Budleigh Jazz Festival.

The future of Budleigh Jazz Festival could be in doubt after its organiser announced he was stepping down from the role.

Read more
07:00
Pete Lowres

Devon Freewheeler volunteer Pete Lowres, 46, knows every penny that drops into the charity’s collection pots is vital to continue its lifeline work.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:00
Father Trevor Smyth with Bishop Richard Hawkins. Fr Trevor says farewell to his parishioners at his final service at All Saint's Church, Exeter Road, as he retires from his post. Ref exe 3343-16-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

An Exmouth vicar has said a fond farewell to his parishioners after more than 14 years.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:00
T-Rex

Phear Park and Manor Gardens are being discussed as possible venues for the return of dinosaurs to Exmouth.

Read more
Yesterday, 07:00

Devon Freewheelers operates daily ‘hand-to-mouth’, never knowing where its next penny will come from.

Read more
Fri, 15:00

Tesco says it is still planning to come to Budleigh, despite a planning application for its proposed store having been withdrawn.

Read more
Fri, 14:06

A man had to be treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation after a fire at Scarletts in The Strand, Exmouth.

Read more
Fri, 13:46
The World of Country Life Lamb National. And they're off... Ref exe 3431-16-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Pictures:

Read more
Fri, 11:43
Mamhead slipway at the western end of the Exmouth seafront. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0236-03-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Building work on the slipway at Mamhead is to begin this summer after district councillors gave final approval.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 3°C

Most Read News

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Competitions
Photo Orders
Family notices
iwitness24
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition today E-edition



Exmouth's trusted business finder