Benefit cheat told to pay up or go back to jail

 

A yacht-owning benefit cheat who failed to reveal he had land in America, a property in Wales and part-owned a farmhouse in France has been told he must pay £35k or return to jail.

Croydon Crown Court made a confiscation order against Graham Axford which means he must sell his assets to pay back money he made from his criminal activity.

The 60-year-old, of Haling Park Road, South Croydon, was jailed for 16 weeks in March 2013 for three counts of benefit fraud by false representation – which he had denied.

The £29k fraud related to housing and council tax benefit claimed between 2003 and 2011 while he was living in a council flat in Belgrave Road, South Norwood. He continues to pay this back and has since been evicted from the flat.

Axford had failed to tell the council he owned a home near Newport, Wales and part-owned a farmhouse, land and holiday cottage in Normandy, France.

In his defence he denied owning the Wales property and said he had transferred ownership of the French home to his wife.

Axford’s yacht has since been sold to pay off marina fees while an investigation following the original court case found he owned five acres of land in South Carolina.

The confiscation order states Axford must pay £35,166.37 in three months or face a 14 month prison sentence with interest accruing on the debt.

In making the order, the judge concluded this amount to be a fair reflection of the value of his assets.

Approximately £30,000 of this will go to the council with the remainder divided between the court and Treasury.

The two-day hearing concluded on Friday, 10 July.

“This has been a long-running case and I’d like to pay tribute to the tenacity of our investigators for bringing this to a positive conclusion.

“It shows that not only will we prosecute benefit cheats, but we will also investigate how much they have gained from their criminal activity, and seek to claim it back.”

Councillor Simon Hall, cabinet member for finance and treasury

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