Hanley man Basam Ahmed claimed £6k in benefits from abroad
AN IRAQI who was overpaid more than £6,000 in benefits while he was out of this country has been handed a conditional discharge.
Basam Ahmed, who came to Britain in 2001, continued to claim income support and housing and council tax benefit while absent from the UK, North Staffordshire magistrates heard.
Prosecutor Paul Kay, representing the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), said: "It is a condition of receiving benefits that you are resident in the UK.
"His passport showed departure and arrival dates from and to the UK. And his bank statements showed cash withdrawals in several countries during the period he was absent from the UK."
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The court heard that when interviewed, Ahmed was initially reluctant to accept he had been out of the country. But he came clean when shown his passport and bank statements and confirmed the amounts, dates and places of the withdrawals were correct.
Ahmed, aged 35, of Westwood Court, Hordley Street, Hanley, pleaded guilty to five charges of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefits. The offending happened on dates between June 25, 2009 and March 4, 2011.
In total he received £6,620 he was not entitled to.
Angela Trafford, mitigating, said the claims were legitimate from the start.
But Ahmed met his wife in 2009 and he started to return to his homeland to arrange for her to come back to the UK with him.
"He considers the UK his home now and after every visit he has returned to the UK," said Miss Trafford.
"He accepts, however, that during the periods he was not in the UK, he should have notified the department."
Miss Trafford said Ahmed has no cautions or previous convictions and has now lost his good character. He suffers from severe epilepsy and can suffer about 20 seizures a month.
She added that cash is being deducted from his benefits to repay the money.
Magistrates sentenced Ahmed to a two-year conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £100 costs.