Benefits cheat who claimed £50,000 named his speedboat and motorhome 'Well Dodgy' (but is spared a prison sentence)
By Ted Thornhill
Last updated at 2:15 PM on 1st February 2012
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'Well dodgy': David James Richards of Rainham in Havering has been handed an eight month suspended sentence after being found guilty of benefits fraud
A man who lived a life of luxury whilst fraudulently claiming more than £50,000 in benefits had an expensive caravan and a speedboat both called ‘Well Dodgy’.
David James Richards, of Rainham, Essex, owned seven vehicles and two speedboats and was a driver for the Formula 1 British water skiing organisation.
But despite his luxurious lifestyle, the 53-year-old was fraudulently claiming housing and council tax benefits.
An investigation was launched in June following a tip off that Richards was actually running a business and had ‘substantial assets’.
He was arrested and found with a number of vehicles including an expensive Winnebago caravan, two speedboats, a breakdown truck, and several other vehicles.
Investigators were left with wry smiles when they saw that Richards had a caravan and a speedboat both called ‘Well Dodgy’.
In interview Richards told Havering Council’s benefits fraud team that the cars and boats were his hobby.
The amounts he had dishonestly claimed were £33,757 from Havering Council, and £16,312 from the Department of Work and Pensions - a total loss to the public purse of a whopping £50,069.
At Basildon Crown Court, Essex, he admitted two counts of failing to tell the authorities of a change in his circumstances.
He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
Richards was also ordered to do 200 hours of community service and given a 9pm to 6am curfew for three months.
The judge also set up a timetable for a confiscation hearing, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which will try to re-coup the money pocketed by Richards.
Afterwards Michael White, leader of Havering Council, slammed Richards for his dishonesty.
Cheeky: Richards' motor home, which was decorated with a name many would see as entirely appropriate
He said: ‘It is absolutely astonishing that this defendant could have lived a life of luxury, and owned so many vehicles, yet he brazenly stole £50,000 from local taxpayers.
‘This case sends out a very strong message that Havering Council will not tolerate anyone who tries to rip-off the public, and we will investigate all allegations that people are defrauding the system.
‘I strongly urge any of our residents who suspect someone of dishonestly claiming benefits to call our benefits investigation team in confidence, on 432405 and we will take action.’
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