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Benefit fraud councillor narrowly avoids prison sentence
Former Kingston councillor Tim Dennen has been ordered to pay £7,000 and given 200 hours of community service after admitting seven charges of benefit fraud.
The ex-Canbury ward representative, 57, was told by magistrates in Wimbledon today that they "seriously considered custody" before handing down a community order.
The offences took place between January 2, 2008, and June 15, 2010, around the time he was re-training for a new career as a drugs rehabilitation counsellor in prisons.
They include failing to declare £18,000 in Premium Bonds, 123 shares in a Barclays premium account and £390 a month rental income from a lodger living at his home in York Road, Kingston.
He also failed to notify the council he was receiving the £7k a year councillor's allowance after being elected in May 2010.
Dennen, of York Road, Kingston, finally pleaded guilty to all charges last month.
He has since repaid the council the £3,611.70.
The chairman of the magistrates told Dennen there were several aggravating features in his case, including the fact he was an elected councillor at the time of some of the offences and had even taken a fraud awareness course.
Dennen was given a 12-month community order of 200 hours unpaid work, ordered to pay £7,000 towards prosecution costs and ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge.
He declined to comment after the hearing.
STILL CLAIMED £7k EXPENSES DURING TWO YEAR INVESTIGATION
After the investigation began in April 2012, Dennen carried on as a councillor, despite being asked to leave the Liberal Democrats, continuing to receive the basic £7,528.95 a year expenses given to councillors.
He even briefly chaired the Kingston town centre neighbourhood committee before the allegations were made public, bumping his expenses for a brief while while to the equivalent of £11,582.52 a year.
When contacted by the Surrey Comet he chose not to comment when questioned about the allegations.
The fraud investigation rumbled on for more than two years.
Fellow councillors were surprised to hear he intended to stand in the 2014 elections.
But shortly after he started electioneering, the decision to prosecute was announced.
Even after his court date was listed before May's election he told the Surrey Comet he was "a strong candidate" campaigning on environmental issues, speeding cars, litter and dog poo.