03:03PM, Wednesday 31 July 2019
A man who lived in a council house in Britwell for more than 10 years despite owning his own property has been ordered to pay back more than £48,000 or face prison.
Gavin Lescott, 41, was in the process of buying a property in Manor Park with his brother when he applied to be placed on the council housing register in 2006.
He went on to buy a house, in Northern Road, as an investment property and it was leased to tenants.
In the meantime, he was offered a council tenancy in Woodford Way, Britwell, which he accepted.
He also applied for benefits in 2017 and failed to declare that he owned a property.
Lescott appeared at Reading Crown Court in May where he admitted three offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and was handed a one-year prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
On Friday (July 26), Judge Angela Morris ordered the 41-year-old to pay back £48,408 by October 25 or face a prison sentence.
This was deemed to be the total criminal benefit from illegally obtaining the tenancy and staying there for more than 10 years.
Cllr Mohammed Nazir, cabinet member for housing and community safety, said: “We will not tolerate those individuals who seek to defraud the local taxpayer.
“Social and council housing is there to provide much needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants.
“The council will continue to take tough action against those unscrupulous individuals who seek to deny vulnerable families a roof over their heads.”
Lescott has also been ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, complete a 10-day rehabilitation course to understand the consequences of his actions and pay the council’s full prosecution costs of £6816.
The council will get a share of the money he has to pay back alongside organisations including the Home Office.
Lescott agreed to move out of the house in Woodford Way and voluntarily returned the keys to the council at the end of June.
The house is now in the process of being rented out to another family on the council housing register.
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