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

10:56
Exmouth Community College prom night 2015. Ref exe 1521-27-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

ECC Year 11 leavers step out in style

Read more
HM Coastguard

A section of Exmouth beach was cordoned off by the coastguard after a two-metre-wide hole appeared in the sand.

Read more
12:30
Exeter Road school's sports day. Ref exe 9472-26-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Children at Exeter Road Primary School enjoyed the sunshine as they competed in the school’s annual sports day.

Read more
09:40
Exmouth RNLI Lifeboat

A man had to be rescued by the RNLI off the coast of Exmouth after his boat was swept out to sea.

Read more
06:30
A grass verge on Marine Way. Ref exe 9844-27-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

‘Ridiculous’ overgrown grass in Exmouth could be cut, with town hall chiefs considering stepping in to improve the appearance of the town.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:30
Rows of shopping trolleys

An Aldi supermarket is set to be built on the outskirts of Topsham after city council planners gave it the green light.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:26
car driving fast into forest.

Fast-driving troublemakers in Exmouth can now be reported to the police more easily, as the authorities aim to crack down on the town’s ‘boy racers’.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:23
Staff at the Exmouth branch of Nat West bank have been busy raising funds for nine month old Leo Burton. Ref exe 1748-25-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

The parents of a baby battling a rare form of cancer have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the support of the community.

Read more
Wed, 11:12
Brian Edwards

An Exmouth man has vowed to raise £42,000 for a Nepalese community which saved his life.

Read more
Wed, 06:30

People in Exmouth are being urged to help their elderly neighbours register their electrical appliances.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 17°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

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

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

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



Exmouth's trusted business finder