Former Lowestoft pub landlord admits �25k benefit fraud

A LOWESTOFT pub landlord who fraudulently claimed �25,499 in employment benefit over a period of five years has been spared an immediate jail term.

Christopher Simpson claimed he was unemployed despite running the Crown between 2002 and 2008.

The 45-year-old was caught up with after being investigated for abstracting electricity at the High Street pub.

At Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, Simpson, of Spexhall, near Halesworth, was handed a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for one year, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

Judge David Goodin said his offence 'comfortably crossed the custody threshold,' but acknowledged Simpson's admission of guilt earlier this month.

Prosecutor Robert Morris had told Judge Goodin of the 'substantial' amount of evidence which proved Simpson was gainfully employed while claiming income support, including food hygiene inspections and connections with the local police nightsafe scheme.

Eight former employees then confirmed that they worked at the pub while he was in charge.

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He also declared the managerial position on his CV, which investigators used as evidence against him.

In credit applications, he claimed annual earnings of �32,000 and business profits of �75,000, but still Simpson claimed he was jobless.

Simpson maintained his innocence until five days before he was due to stand trial.

Grant Vanstone, defending produced testimonials from Simpson's current and former employers and from his own parents, in which he was described as 'a hard working man who is able to provide good service to those around him.'

In sentencing Simpson, Judge Goodin said: 'Many people will say you richly deserve to go to prison. You had many opportunities, which you turned down, to come clean or at least desist the activity with which you persisted.'