Torquay man, 34, used fellow prisoner's identity to claim £13,033 benefit
A CONVICTED fraudster used the identity of a man he met in prison to claim more than £13,000 in disability living allowance.
Christopher Tribble (pictured right), from Torquay, made the application for benefits immediately after being released from jail for another offence.
He used the name of William Groves, a fellow prisoner, whom he claimed had diabetes, angina, asthma and depression, but pocketed the fortnightly cheque himself.
Some of the cash went to his girlfriend Sameena Lumber.
Tribble, 34, from Old Mill Road, admitted fraud by false representation when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.
Lumber, 22, of the same address, also admitted fraud.
Prosecutor Will Rose said: "After his release from custody he made an application for disability living allowance using Groves' personal information — he says with Groves' knowledge."
Addresses and phone numbers on the application linked it to both Tribble and Lumber.
It stated Lumber was Groves' carer, even though Groves was still in prison.
The claim requested payment of £355 a fortnight into a bank account held by Lumber. There was also a Post Office account in the name of Groves which the pair had access to.
Tribble said Groves had been in on the fraud and had given his details willingly. He said some of the money did go to Groves' daughter so she could visit him in prison.
The Department for Work and Pensions, which brought the case, said it could find no evidence Groves was involved at all, but Judge John Neligan said he must sentence on the basis Tribble was telling the truth.
The amount illegally claimed was £13,033. The payments ran between 2008 and 2011.
Lumber said she had got about £2,000 of that. The court was told both had previous convictions for dishonesty.
In April 2011, Tribble was sent to prison for a £70,000 fraud in which he convinced accident claim companies to send him expensive cars after telling them he had been involved in crashes with milk floats and lorries.
At the same time Lumber was given a suspended sentence for related offences.
William Parkhill, defending Tribble, said the benefit fraud pre-dated his last conviction and he had been making good progress in his life since.
Paul Dentith, for Lumber, said she had played a lesser role and simply 'turned a blind eye' to the payments being made into her account.
"She is not the person who submitted the claim," he said.
The judge was told Tribble was currently completing the remainder of his sentence for the car fraud and was due to be released in October.
The judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison, to be served concurrently.
"That will mean you are released in the not too distant future," he said.
As he was led away to the cells, Lumber called out that she loved him.
The judge said the pregnant Lumber had experienced a 'terrible life', but he did not want her to think she had got away with a serious crime in which she was a 'willing participant'.
He gave her an 18-month community order.