Conservative councillor to face trial over alleged housing benefit fraud

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A former Conservative councillor has appeared in court accused of fiddling thousands of pounds in housing benefits from her own local authority.

Catherine Pierce resigned as the Exeter City Council representative for the Topsham ward suddenly and without explanation in October last year, shortly after being notified that she was to be prosecuted.

She is to face trial by a jury at Exeter Crown Court accused of defrauding Exeter City Council out of more than £10,000 in housing benefit between April 2017 and February 2019.

She is alleged to have obtained housing benefit dishonestly by failing to declare income from her councillor allowances - a private pension - and paid part time or agency work as a National Health Service administrator.

Pierce, aged 56, of Cathedral Court, Exeter, denied five counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstance while claiming housing benefit.

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Judge David Evans adjourned the case for a trial on May 19 this year and released her on unconditional bail.

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