Devon man jailed for near £100k benefit fraud

Published
Image source, Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption,
Lewis had 23 previous convictions, mostly for dishonesty, under his original name of Norman Hill, Exeter Crown Court heard

A man who stole the identity of his dead half-brother to claim almost £100,000 in benefits has been jailed.

Robert Lewis, 61, of New Street, Honiton, had at least three National Insurance numbers in different names.

He claimed disability living allowance, personal independence payments, employment support allowance and housing benefits.

Lewis admitted six counts of fraud and was jailed for two years and eight months at Exeter Crown Court.

The court heard he used the date of birth of his half-brother who had died 13 years earlier.

Lewis was already claiming legitimate benefits when he started the fraudulent claims, the court was told, and had previous convictions under another alias.

The court heard he had 23 previous convictions, mostly for dishonesty, under his original name of Norman Hill.

'Campaign of dishonesty'

Prosecuting, Nigel Wraith said Lewis had used four different identities at different times, and had changed his name by deed poll.

Judge Timothy Rose described the claims as a "sustained campaign of dishonesty".

"It is plain these were sophisticated offences which required significant planning and ground work. Additional aggravating features are the lengthy time over which they took place and that they were utterly fraudulent from the outset," he said.

Emmi Wilson, defending, said Lewis "had started to repay the money", which totalled £97,070.