by our RGB Correspondent | Woolwich
|Cllr Chris Kirby|
Mr Mark Kenny was found guilty and sentenced on Friday 24 July at Woolwich Crown Court. In addition to paying the Royal Borough’s £4400 legal costs, the Royal Borough has also claimed back £7376 for the costs incurred placing homeless people in emergency housing when Mr Kenny should not have had access to the council home.
Bringing the property back into Royal Borough housing stock has also given a much needed home to a homeless man on the Royal Borough’s housing list.
In March 1996, Mr Kenny obtained a one bedroom council flat on Sidcup Road in Eltham from the Royal Borough of Greenwich (then Greenwich Council).
The Royal Borough’s Unauthorised Occupation (Housing Fraud) Team conducted a proactive exercise in relation to Right to Buy applications and in July 2014 discovered that Mr Kenny appeared to have left the council flat. As this meant that he no longer occupied the premises as his only or principal home, a Notice to Quit (NTQ) was served to bring the flat back into Royal Greenwich stock. Mr Kenny had made a Right to Buy application the previous September and would have qualified for a discount of £66,500 had his application been successful.
Following a detailed investigation by the Royal Borough’s Internal Audit and Anti-Fraud team the evidence obtained showed that in September 1999 Mr Kenny jointly purchased a house in Eltham with the mother of his children. He then purchased a further property at Ashmore Grove in Welling in November 2012, and had been living there permanently since that time.
When interviewed, Mr Kenny claimed to have purchased the house in Ashmore Grove on behalf of his brother and said that he continued to live at the council flat on Sidcup Road.
Mr Kenny was first summonsed to appear at Bexley Magistrates Court on 15 December 2014 for two offences under the Fraud Act 2006. The matter was adjourned to allow Mr Kenny’s Defence more time to consider the evidence and in January 2015 Mr Kenny returned the keys to the council flat.
The matter was then passed to Woolwich Crown Court and on 14 May 2015 Mr Kenny agreed to pay Royal Greenwich the sum of £7376. This was compensation for the costs incurred for Royal Greenwich providing emergency accommodation to those in genuine need during the period that Mr Kenny deprived them of the use of the council flat.
Having repaid this sum in full, Mr Kenny then pleaded guilty to making the fraudulent Right to Buy Applications.
On 24 July 2015 Mr Kenny appeared at Woolwich Crown Court and upon sentencing the Honourable Mr Justice Singh stated that “Mr Kenny’s motivation was to financially gain the £66,500 Right to Buy discount which would have been the potential loss to the public purse.”
He sentenced Mr Kenny to a 10 month prison sentence (suspended for one year). He also ordered him to work 150 hours unpaid in the community and imposed a Home Detention Curfew (HDC), or ‘tag’ as it is commonly known for 3 months. He was also ordered to pay all of the Royal Borough’s legal costs.
Councillor Chris Kirby, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Housing said:“This is a case of deception and greed on a massive scale which has thankfully now backfired for Mr Kenny. Not only did he continue to keep the council flat when he clearly no longer needed it, he went much further when attempting to illegally claim £65,500 of public money for a Right to Buy discount."
“Had Mr Kenny been successful he would have got away with tens of thousands of pounds he had no right to. He also would have removed a much needed home from the Royal Borough’s housing stock."
“I’m pleased therefore that the Court has imposed a strong sentence in this case. Mr Kenny has repaid the costs we’ve faced in housing homeless families and I’m also delighted that a local homeless person in genuine housing need now has access to a home of their own.”
“My congratulations go to the officers involved in bringing about this successful conclusion, and I urge anyone with concerns that a council home may be illegally sublet or bought, to contact the Housing Fraud team today.”
If you suspect someone of housing fraud within the Royal Borough of Greenwich you can call 0800 169 6975 or email Unauthorised-Occupation@royalgreenwich.gov.uk.
Any information you give will be treated in confidence.