Don't miss a story sign up to Exmouth Journal's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

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

24 minutes ago
Exmouth fundraisers Steve Noon, Jason Wright and Darran Burt.

A trio from Exmouth is gearing up to put the ‘pedal to the metal’ for a cancer charity.

Read more
10:00
Children in Class one at Otterton primary school enjoyed a visit by local childrens' author Jan Oke this week who talked about her bus 'Naughty Bus'. Ref exb 3023-04-16SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A visit from a Budleigh Salterton author has inspired children at Otterton Primary School to create their own stories.

Read more
24 minutes ago

The organiser of the Nieghbourhood Plan for East Budleigh believes good progress is being made in creating the blueprint for the village’s future.

Read more
Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay of the Pig and Pallet in Topsham. Ref ext 3400-05-16SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A Topsham restaurant co-owner believes the introduction of the Government’s National Living Wage will make life even harder for small businesses.

Read more
06:30
Littleham resident Mrs Vida Phillips receives a cheque for £1,000 from Steve Jennings-Archant SW Circulation Manger. Ref exe 2971-04-16SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A Littleham pensioner, who recently won a cash competition in the Journal, has hailed her victory as a ‘lovely surprise’.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:30
Nick Duckett and Jenna Pease from Pets at home present a cheque to Shelagh Morse of East Devon cats protection. Ref exe 04-16TI 9796. Picture: Terry Ife

Kind-hearted fundraisers in Exmouth have raised a whopping £1,166 for animal welfare charities.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:30

Residents of Budleigh Salterton are calling for better job opportunities for young people to be included in a blueprint for the town’s future.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:00
Topsham primary school children learning about fire safety awareness with Liz Porter and Maxine Tyson of Devon and Somerset fire and rescue. Ref ext 03-16TI 9602. Picture: Terry Ife

Schoolchildren in Topsham were given life-saving information about what they should do in the event of a fire.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30
Flooding at Mytholmroyd in Yorkshire - one of the communities which will benefit from money raised in Exmouth and Budleigh by Rotary Club volunteers.

Rotary Club fundraisers from Exmouth have revealed that a total of £4,000 has been sent to help flood victims in the north of England, thanks to generous local residents.

Read more
Fri, 16:30
Fundraisers at the Thomson Reuters Digita Wii Olympics.

An Exmouth business is set to dig deep to support a children’s hospice charity at the Rainbow Run in June.

Read more

Local Weather

Rain

Rain

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 6°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

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

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition E-edition

Local business directory

Exmouth's trusted business finder

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Find planning applications