Honiton benefit fiddler who claimed almost £100,000 is jailed

PUBLISHED: 14:35 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:27 23 April 2018

Jailed: Robert Lewis.

Jailed: Robert Lewis.

Archant

A benefit fiddler has been jailed for inventing three different identities which he used to claim almost £100,000.

Robert Lewis had at least three National Insurance numbers in different names and had stolen the identity of his own half brother, who died 13 years ago.

He succeeded in claiming disability living allowance, personal independent payments, employment support allowance and housing benefit under the false names for four years.

Lewis, aged 61, who has convictions for fraud dating back to the 1980s under yet another alias, was already claiming legitimate benefits when he devised the swindle.

He obtained National Insurance numbers and other identity papers in the names of Robert Shales and Mark Shales and used them to claim £97,070.54.

Lewis, aged 61, of New Street, Honiton, and formerly of Clifford Drive, Heathfield, Newton Abbot, admitted six counts of fraud and was jailed for two years and eight months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “You embarked on a sustained campaign of dishonesty through fictitious or adopted names which had nothing to do with you in reality.

“It is plain these were sophisticated offences which required significant planning and ground work. Additional aggravating features are the lengthy time over which they took place and that they were utterly fraudulent from the outset.”

Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Lewis has used four different identities at different times. He was born Norman Hill, but adopted as a baby. He changed his name to Lewis by deed poll.

His mother’s surname was Shales and in 2012 and 2013 he invented the identities of Robert Shales, with his own date of birth, and Mark Shales, with the date of birth of his late half brother.

The real Mark Shales was born in 1962 but died aged 35 in Jersey in 1995.

Lewis used his name for a variety of false claims while living at Newton Abbot.

Lewis has 23 previous convictions, mostly for dishonesty, and all under his original name of Norman Hill.

Miss Emmi Wilson, defending, said Lewis is now working and has started to repay the money.

He is married to a Chinese wife who will struggle to cope without him if he is sent to jail.

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