On Air Now
Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden 6:30am - 10am
A greedy multi-million pound lottery winner and convicted rapist who claimed thousands in benefits despite a £5 million fortune has been jailed for nine months.
Cheating Edward Putman from Hertfordshire, wrote letters to the authorities pleading for his benefits to be reinstated after he missed a medical appointment, insisting he was penniless and unable to feed himself after they had been stopped.
But he failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions and his local council, who had been paying him income support and housing benefit, that in September 2009 he won almost £5million which he hid in a secret bank account.
As a result, benefit payments to scheming Putman began once more in August 2010, backdated to the previous September, meaning he cheated the tax payer out of almost £13,000 over 20 months.
Judge Andrew Bright told the 46-year-old that he was making an example of his greed which he said 'defies belief' as a warning to anyone tempted to con the benefit system. His breathtaking dishonesty was only discovered when he applied to buy his council flat in Hemel Hempstead, Herts., for £83,000 under a Right to Buy scheme and said he would pay in cash. Those paying his benefits were immediately suspicious and an investigation of his financial affairs began.
Putman, 46, from Station Road in Kings Langley, Herts, pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change of circumstances to the DWP in relation to income support. He also pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change of circumstances to Dacorum Borough Council in respect of housing benefit.
Speaking at St Albans Crown Court Judge Bright said Putman had purposely calculated a 'pack of lies' to persuade the authorities to reinstate his benefits.
He said: "You won nearly £5 million yet you carried on claiming to what you were not entitled to for a 20 month period. You showed greed on a scale which frankly defies belief especially in an economic climate where people are struggling to make ends meet. The fact you have paid money back is no mitigation at all regarding the millions you have received. This is so serious and so grave it clearly steps outside the norm. I have a duty to send a clear message to all those people who out of pure greed make claims to benefits you are not entitled to, that you will be subject to terms of imprisonment of significant length if you and when you get caught."
In a prepared statement read outside the court by defence barrister Paul Millan, Putman said: "I have today been duly sentences for the crimes that I have committed. I can only apologise for the offences I have committed."
Putman first begun claiming incapacity benefit as far back as 2000, because he was unable to work due to anxiety. He also began claiming housing benefit and was told that he would have to undergo periodical medical check ups. In 2009, the court was told, he heard he would have to attend such a medical check up, but failed to keep the appointment. He failed to provide an explanation why and, eventually, in April 2010, his benefit payments were suspended.
But, by now, Putman was a multi millionaire, having won just under £5Million the previous September.
Miss Mashru said that at the time of his win he had told Camelot he wanted "no publicity."
In July of 2010 Putman wrote letter to the DWP and Dacorum Borough Council claiming he was in dire need of assistance because of his benefits being suspended. He pointed out that he had been ill, had lost weight and even feared for his life. He claimed he was suffering from depression and was borrowing money from family and friends to feed himself. He added he had even sold his belongings to raise cash.
As well as asking for his benefits to be re-instated, he also asked if they could be backdated, which was accepted by the DWP and council - unaware of his recent life-changing win. But in October 2010 when Putman applied to buy his council flat for just under £84,000, with cash, the council began to look with more interest into Putman's financial circumstances.
They discovered a bank account with £100,000 in it and, eventually, the bank recommended by Camelot to lottery winners was found to be holding just under £5Million belonging to Putman that had been paid in during September 2009.
When invited to attend an interview to explain all his money, Putman at first claimed he hadn't touched his benefit payments. Checks revealed that to be a lie too and out of £8,000 in income support paid out by the DWP, Putman had spent around £5,500 of it.
Following Putman's first appearance in court, it was revealed that in the early 1990's, he went to prison for seven years for raping a 17 year-old girl at her home in Milton Keynes.
He also has a conviction for violence and two weeks ago a previous partner of Putman revealed that she had no idea he had won the money.
Paul Millan, defending, said: "It's a fraud on the tax payer and a fraud on the state."
Mr Millan said Putman had made a perfectly legal claim back in 2000 for benefits and it only became fraudulent when he failed to tell the authorities of his change in circumstances when he won the money.
Putman was sentenced to nine months for each charge of fraud, to run concurrently, and must pay costs of £425.