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Ex-drug addict admits benefit fraud

PUBLISHED: 10:14 17 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:33 03 July 2010

A FORMER drug addict cashed in a £170 housing benefit cheque made out to another person to buy food, a court heard yesterday.

Philip Nicoll carried out the fraud when he moved into his new home in Lancaster Road, Great Yarmouth, and opened a borough council housing benefit letter to the previous tenant, Darren Ball.

A FORMER drug addict cashed in a £170 housing benefit cheque made out to another person to buy food, a court heard yesterday.

Philip Nicoll carried out the fraud when he moved into his new home in Lancaster Road, Great Yarmouth, and opened a borough council housing benefit letter to the previous tenant, Darren Ball.

Yesterday, the 36-year-old admitted committing a fraud by dishonestly making a false representation by presenting the cheque and pretending to be Mr Ball on September 5.

Yarmouth Magistrates' Court heard that after opening the letter and seeing the cheque for £170, Nicoll rummaged through post addressed to Mr Ball to find some identification.

Nicoll then took the cheque and three pieces of identification to the Cash Inn in Yarmouth town centre to cash the cheque. He was given £150 which he used to buy food as he was desperate.

Yarmouth Borough Council became aware of the fraud when Mr Ball complained that he had not received any housing benefit.

The court heard that Nicoll, who used to have a serious drug habit for six years, handed himself in to the police and had not cashed a further cheque sent to Mr Ball. Nicoll had a long string of previous theft convictions.

Chris Bentley, representing Nicoll, said his client had been off drugs for a year and was beginning to rebuild his life.

Mr Bentley, explaining the reason for the fraud, said: “He had just moved into that particular property. He had nothing, no money, no way of getting food.”

Magistrates adjourned Nicoll's sentencing until January 12 so reports can be prepared.

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