Man admits owning house in Wales while claiming housing and council tax benefit,court hears
9:00am Saturday 16th February 2013 in News
A man who stood for election to Croydon Council has admitted he owned a property in Wales while claiming housing and council tax benefit in Croydon.
Graham Axford, of Belgrave Road, South Norwood, denies six counts of fraud by false representation in relation to the benefits paid by Croydon Council between 2000 and 2007.
Croydon Crown Court heard the 58-year-old, who has been in receipt of incapacity benefit since a motorcycle accident in 1995, failed to declare he owned a property in Wales and part owned a farmhouse in Normandy on benefit claim forms.
Giving evidence, Mr Axford, who stood for election in Upper Norwood ward in 2010, said he bought the property in Commercial Road, Abertillery, Gwent, in 1984, but a gas explosion in 1987, made the home inhabitable.
He said: "There was a leak from a gas cooker, I was going to light a log fire and the whole thing blew up. I was in intensive care and needed six skin grafts.
"I didn't live there, it was destroyed in the fire with me in it, since then it has been derelict."
Mr Axford told the court he bought the property in Wales with the proceeds of the sale of his house in North London, before gifting it to his wife Suzanne Weigel in 1996 or 1997.
Jonathan Mitchell defending said: "A £30,345 loan was taken out on the property, did you get the money?"
"No, the money went to Suzanne," replied Mr Axford.
Speaking about the property in France, he added: "It had been left derelict for 10 years, the roof had fallen in, the walls had fallen in, electric cables were dangling and there was no toilet."
Asked about a second loan taken out against the property in Wales, Mr Axford again said he had not received any of the money.
He said: "I think the money was to start improvements at the house in France, but it went to Suzanne."
The case continues.