One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Northampton Fraudster Jailed
A man from Northampton caught on camera fighting police officers in Northampton - and who falsely claimed Disability Living Allowance has been jailed.
46 year-old Timothy Harris was seen on CCTV on New Year's eve in Northampton fighting with Police - despite claiming he could not leave home without a walking stick.
Mr Harris, told Housing Benefit staff, he wasn't able to leave his home in Sage Close, without a walking stick after suffering injuries when a wall fell onto him.
But he was captured on town centre CCTV in the early hours of New Year's Day 2008, during a "violent rampage" around Northampton town centre, lasting more than 15 minutes.
Mr Harris received a suspended sentence for his behaviour that day - but during the investigation of the incident, the Department for Work and Pensions discovered he had dishonestly claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit between January 2006 and November 2010.
Northampton Crown Court heard Mr Harris failed to declare a change in his circumstances and was found to have received £54,729 cash, undeclared.
Mr Harris further claimed Disability Living Allowance, saying he could hardly walk - yet was seen on CCTV fighting, running and jogging during the brawl of January 1, 2008.
Mr Harris defrauded public money to the tune of £21,438.66.
Harris, who pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances previously, was also sentenced for breach of a suspended sentence handed to him for the New Year's Day affray, and a charge of possession of cocaine on another occasion and has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Judge Richard Bray said: "I have to sentence you first for social security fraud. You received a total of £21,000 by fraud. I appreciate that these claims were not fraudulent from the outset. However, there are two aggravating features. These offences you committed over a lengthy period of time and in various forms. Secondly and most importantly, you had been claiming disability allowance on the basis that you had an injury that made it almost impossible for you to walk."
Judge Bray added "In fact, you were caught on CCTV in the midst of an affray on the street after drinking and taking drugs where you were seen to be running about and taking part in the affray."
Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud said: "It's cases like these that show us why welfare reform is needed. We have a duty to the taxpayer and our customers to make sure that these vital benefits only go to those who need them. Benefit fraud takes money away from the most vulnerable. It is a crime and we are committed to stopping it by catching criminals at the front line and making sure our reforms make the benefit system less open to abuse."
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