Convicted fraudster is a benefits cheat

A CONVICTED fraudster who cheated the Benefits Agency out of more than £3,000 could be sent to jail.

Mark Ryde, of Blackstone Close, Somercotes, claimed Jobseekers Allowance while hiding the fact that he was living with his partner, a court has heard.

Magistrates at Chesterfield were told he made fortnightly declarations that there had been no change in his personal circumstances.

But the court was told, from September 12 to July 18 last year, he failed to declare that he and Wendy Pritchard were living together as husband and wife.

Katie Fowkes, prosecuting, said the Department for Work and Pensions received a tip-off about the fraud be was committing.

Checks found that Ms Pritchard had written to her employer in November 2010 requesting maternity leave, giving Ryde’s then-address as her own.

She gave birth in January of last year and the pair both signed the birth certificate and gave the same address.

“He accepted last May that there was a relationship and she had stayed at his address, the court was told.

But, said Ms Fowkes, he said it was not there every night and they were not living together.

“She claimed she was staying with her father or her auntie,” said Ms Fowkes, adding that the Department of Work and Pensions would directly reclaim the £3,039 overpayment from Ryde, who is aged 37.

Ryde initially denied failing to notify the government department of a change in circumstances, but he changed his plea to guilty.

He further admitted breaching a six-month suspended jail sentence imposed at Derby Crown Court in December 2010 for fraud, magistrates were told.

District Judge Andrew Davison committed the case to Derby Crown Court with a hearing set to take place on May 25.

A judge at the crown court will sentence Ryde after studying a probation service report about him and the circumstances of the case.