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Shropshire businessman swindled more than £8,000 in disability benefits

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Crime | Published:

A benefits cheat businessman has been handed a suspended prison sentence for drug offences and swindling more than £8,000 in disability benefit.

Lee Stevens falsely claimed disability living allowance

Lee Stevens ran his own business but falsely claimed £8,744.10 in disability living allowance, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard.

Mr John Oates, prosecuting, said police raided the unit at Grange Farm, Lilleshall, in June 2015. He told the court it was clear the unit was being used for vehicle respraying and repair.

Drugs were found at the premises and at Stevens’ home address, where a stun gun was also discovered.

Mr Oates said Stevens was found in possession of cannabis and amphetamines with a potential value of more than £1,800.

Police also seized £310 in cash. Mr Oates said Stevens had committed social security fraud by failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstance in relation to his mobility and care needs.

It would have affected his entitlement to disability living allowance.

Mr Oates said he started claiming the benefit in 2010 and had declared having learning difficulties, depression and needing his wife’s help in doing tasks such as reading, washing, dressing and eating.

The court heard Stevens had told the authorities he could walk but required somebody to be with him when he was outdoors.

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But Mr Oates said there was no sign of any physical or mental problems when he was at the police station for the drug offences.

The 40-year-old, of Warrensway, Madeley, admitted two counts of benefit fraud for the period June 2015 to January 2017.

He also admitted being in possession of amphetamine with intent to supply, possessing cannabis and a stun gun.

Recorder Martin Jackson jailed him for 60 weeks, suspended for two years.

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He said the most serious offence was benefit fraud and Stevens had been running his own business from an industrial unit.

Mr Jackson told Stevens: “Benefit fraud is a serious matter.

“It involves swindling the public purse and taking money from people that may need it more than you do.”

Ms Caroline Harris, representing Stevens, said he was cooperative when police executed a search warrant, even though officers had a search warrant for the wrong address.

She said his wife had filled in the benefits application form on his behalf, back when he had been a “very different individual”, but he did not think to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances.

Ms Harris said he had also sought treatment for his drug issue with amphetamine.

As well as having a suspended prison sentence hanging over his head, Stevens will have to undertake a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement, a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement and pay £2,000 costs and £100 victim surcharge.

Mr Jackson ordered the destruction of the drugs and stun gun.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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