10-year tenancy fraud catches up with mother and son as judge orders community service and suspended jail sentence
Tuesday 21 September: Hillingdon Council ends 10-year tenancy fraud
For 10 years, Doreen Bailey, aged 68, and her son Neil Mockford, aged 38, failed to inform the council that Doreen no longer lived at her council property at Hobart Lane, Hayes. Both pleaded guilty to fraud by failure to disclose information and making false representations to continue the tenancy.
At Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday 14 September, Bailey and Mockford were each sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work and a £500 penalty. Mockford was also given a nine-month suspended prison sentence. The property was recovered by the council in 2019.
The case came onto the council's radar following an anonymous tip-off, which started the investigation. Officers from the Business Assurance Counter Fraud Team discovered that between 2008 and 2018, Doreen Bailey (previously known as Mockford) claimed to be living at the four-bedroom property despite moving to a different address in Hayes after remarrying in 2008. In February 2012, she falsely signed her tenancy verification form in her former surname, declaring she was still occupying the Hobart Lane property.
Her son - who was living in the property - continued the deception by falsely completing electoral records (on eight occasions) declaring his mother was staying at the council property. He was also caught lying to enforcement officers who visited the property in June 2018. He claimed that she was on holiday at the time of the visit but was unable to explain when she would return. Upon further investigation, Mockford first denied but later admitted to subletting some rooms over the 10-year period, which proved Bailey was not living at the property.
Their fraudulent activity meant the council was potentially out of pocket by £161,000 - the equivalent cost to house a family in need in emergency accommodation over a 10-year period. The council's investigation also confirmed that Mrs Bailey was registered to vote at her new address in Hayes. Further links to her matrimonial address were uncovered during the investigation, which was enough for the council to take legal action.
Cllr Martin Goddard, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Finance said:
"For more than a decade, Bailey and Mockford cheated the housing system and thought they could get away with it. However, thanks to the work of our counter fraud team, their blatant dishonesty and attempts to cover up their fraudulent scheme caught up with them.
"Our officers work incredibly hard to ensure council housing is allocated fairly to those most in need of a home. With an already huge demand across the country for social housing, unfortunately there are people like Bailey and Mockford who are denying families a decent home. Thankfully in this case, we have recovered the property, which has now been let to a genuine family in need.
"I hope this case serves a reminder to those who think they are above the law. We won't hesitate to take the same action against anyone else caught making fraudulent claims."
Under interview Bailey claimed she alternated between the two properties but later admitted that she was permanently living in her address in Uxbridge Road. Both Bailey and Mockford pleaded not guilty but later changed their pleas to guilty.