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Former Kingswear pub landlord found guilty of £31,000 benefits fraud

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 15, 2012

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MOVES are to be made against a well-known former South Devon landlord to try and recoup cash after he was found guilty of a £31,000 benefits fraud.

Croydon Borough Council is looking into confiscation proceedings against Stephen Sussams, who used to run the Royal Dart Hotel at Kingswear.

He was found guilty of theft, dishonestly making a false statement or representation, and three counts of fraud by failing to disclose information.

The 59-year-old was taken to court by the local authority and was found guilty at Croydon Crown Court of pocketing £17,600 in care fees mistakenly paid into a dead man's bank account, which Sussams had access to as he had been the deceased's carer.

He also cheated the borough council out of more than £14,000 in housing and council tax benefit after not revealing he was living with his civil partner.

Sussams also failed to tell the London authority he ran the Royal Dart Hotel in Kingswear.

After the court hearing, councillor Dudley Mead, deputy leader of the Croydon Borough Council, confirmed the authority would launch confiscation proceedings against Sussams to examine his assets and see what he gained as a result of his criminal activity.

He said: "This has been a complex case and the result reflects the hard work and determined efforts of the council's fraud investigators."

In his defence, Sussams claimed he thought the care payments were pension money and that he had found it difficult filling in benefit claim forms.

He also claimed he didn't try to conceal his business interests.

Nancy Udom, prosecuting, told the Crown Court jury that Sussams was living in South Devon as the landlord of the Royal Dart pub — he was not living in Croydon.

She said the flat he was claiming housing and council tax benefit for was a pied-à-terre in the south east.

She said Sussams had a responsibility to tell the council he was linked to a business in Devon.

Sussams was featured in a BBC Panorama investigation screened last year called 'Britain on the Fiddle'.

Judge Peter Gow told Sussams a sentence of imprisonment was 'inevitable'.

Sussams was remanded in custody for sentence until January 11.

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