A pensioner pocketed nearly £100,000 in benefits claiming he was struggling to survive in the UK while living 10,000 miles away in Thailand with his new wife and children.
Alan Barlow kept his council house in Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent as a ‘bolt hole’ and would jet back into the country for treatment on the NHS.
Even after his fraud was exposed in 2011, the 67 year-old carried on conning cash out of the system while enjoying family life in the sunshine.
Now father-of-two Barlow is starting a 16-month prison term after admitting four counts of benefit fraud.
Sentencing him a judge told the OAP he was ‘perfectly content’ for taxpayers in the UK to fund his family life in Thailand.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Barlow falsely claimed council tax benefit, housing benefit, pension credits and disability living allowance for several years.
He even continued claiming the cash after being convicted of benefit fraud in 2011.
The court heard Barlow was correctly granted DLA in 2005 after suffering from a number of health problems, including multiple sclerosis and chronic lung disease.
Prosecutor Richard McConaghy said: ‘The fraud comes from the fact that for the main part, at least from 2010, he was living in Thailand.
‘He met his now wife there in the late 1990s and began to spend more and more time there.’
The court heard Stoke-on-Trent City Council stopped his council tax benefit and housing benefit in 2008 because of the time he spent in Thailand.
But he successfully had the benefits reinstated after saying he had been unaware of a rule that prohibited him from claiming while spending a period of more than 13 weeks out of the country. But he continued to spend most of his time in Thailand.
Mr McConaghy said: ‘In 2011 he received a conditional discharge from magistrates in relation to benefits, for exactly the same reasons.
‘We are concerned about in this case, and for exactly the same reasons his housing benefit and council tax benefit were cancelled in 2008, because this country was no longer his main residence.
‘It didn’t stop him. He married in Thailand in 2014. The relationship he had there involved two children – one of whom was adopted. His council house in this country was used as a base to get medical treatment.’
Barlow admitted three counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in his circumstances, and one of cheating the public revenue.
In total he claimed £93,659.90 in benefits that he was not entitled to.
The court heard Barlow has started paying the cash back – at a rate of just £30-a-week.
Robert Holt, mitigating, said: ‘He had a desire to be with his family because he feared being alone. He thinks he has not very long left in his life and he wishes to die in Thailand.’
The court heard Barlow is now on the waiting list for another council house in the city.
Jailing Barlow, Judge David Fletcher said: ‘You were fully aware that by maintaining a permanent residence outside the UK that the claims you were making for four different types of financial assistance were fraudulent.
‘Having been convicted, you simply carried on doing what you were doing before. You were perfectly content that the taxpayers in the UK funded your life, and that of your wife and children, in Thailand.’ – Daily Mail
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