Watford benefits cheat, Sally Roach, who bought pub after receiving inheritance money fined

First published in News
Last updated
Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Web content editor

A Watford woman continued to claim benefits after receiving a £100,000 inheritance windfall and buying a pub in Cornwall.

Sally Roach, of Cecil Street, continued to claim council tax benefit and employment support allowance after receiving an inheritance of £110,000 from her late father.

Watford Borough Council received an anonymous tip off suggesting Mrs Roach had received an inheritance payment and then purchased a pub in Cornwall.

A joint investigation was then undertaken by Watford Borough Council and the Department for Work & Pensions.

Roach was interviewed under caution in October 2012 by fraud officers at Cornwall Council.

She admitted that she had received inheritance payments and also confirmed that she had taken on a lease for a pub.

Roach was invited for a further interview under caution in June 2013, but refused to attend.

Watford Borough Council and the Department for Work & Pensions recalculated Mrs Roach's benefits, taking into account her inheritance.

It was decided that she was no longer entitled to benefit and was overpaid £3,483 in Employment Support Allowance and £276 in council tax benefit.

Roach pleaded not guilty and elected to go to trial. On Friday, January 3 2014, she appeared before Watford Magistrates Court where she changed her plea to guilty and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £1,500 prosecution costs.

Councillor Mark Watkin, cabinet member, said: "Our consistent success in prosecuting benefit fraud cases acts as a powerful statement of intent from Watford Borough Council.

"We vigorously tackle all forms of benefit fraud in the borough. Anyone who is honest has nothing to fear, however we must always ensure that benefits reach those who need them the most."

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:39am Thu 9 Jan 14

Phil Cox (UKIP) says...

Anyone who defrauds Watford Council defrauds all of us as we are the ones whose money has been stolen.
Anyone who defrauds Watford Council defrauds all of us as we are the ones whose money has been stolen. Phil Cox (UKIP)
  • Score: 11

9:59am Thu 9 Jan 14

deadphill says...

overpaid £3,483 in Employment Support Allowance and £276 in council tax benefit.

Fined £2500 and £1500 in costs.

So does the £2500 go back to the council? Thats still less than the £3759 she defrauded. And I am sure £1500 does not cover the councils costs.

She has over £100,000. Why don't they have to foot the entire bill? Why should tax payers have to cover the gap for this ladys greed?
overpaid £3,483 in Employment Support Allowance and £276 in council tax benefit. Fined £2500 and £1500 in costs. So does the £2500 go back to the council? Thats still less than the £3759 she defrauded. And I am sure £1500 does not cover the councils costs. She has over £100,000. Why don't they have to foot the entire bill? Why should tax payers have to cover the gap for this ladys greed? deadphill
  • Score: 13

11:24am Thu 9 Jan 14

davesol says...

deadphill wrote:
overpaid £3,483 in Employment Support Allowance and £276 in council tax benefit.

Fined £2500 and £1500 in costs.

So does the £2500 go back to the council? Thats still less than the £3759 she defrauded. And I am sure £1500 does not cover the councils costs.

She has over £100,000. Why don't they have to foot the entire bill? Why should tax payers have to cover the gap for this ladys greed?
presumably she had to repay the overpayment, plus pay the fine, plus pay the prosecution costs

hopefully!
[quote][p][bold]deadphill[/bold] wrote: overpaid £3,483 in Employment Support Allowance and £276 in council tax benefit. Fined £2500 and £1500 in costs. So does the £2500 go back to the council? Thats still less than the £3759 she defrauded. And I am sure £1500 does not cover the councils costs. She has over £100,000. Why don't they have to foot the entire bill? Why should tax payers have to cover the gap for this ladys greed?[/p][/quote]presumably she had to repay the overpayment, plus pay the fine, plus pay the prosecution costs hopefully! davesol
  • Score: 2

11:36am Thu 9 Jan 14

Hairy Hornet says...

It may be that there was an arrangement made that isnt part of the sentence, between the parties for the money to be repaid. (If it hasnt been already) .The fine wont go back to the council, its only when a compensation order is made in favour of the victim that the money would be paid to them.

A seperate application under the proceeds of crime can be made at conviction and pursued after sentence to identify any sums and then order them to be paid to the collecting court, but these sums wouldnt be paid to the victim but go into the general pot for good causes to ensure that convicted criminals do not benefit from their crime.

As I understand it.
It may be that there was an arrangement made that isnt part of the sentence, between the parties for the money to be repaid. (If it hasnt been already) .The fine wont go back to the council, its only when a compensation order is made in favour of the victim that the money would be paid to them. A seperate application under the proceeds of crime can be made at conviction and pursued after sentence to identify any sums and then order them to be paid to the collecting court, but these sums wouldnt be paid to the victim but go into the general pot for good causes to ensure that convicted criminals do not benefit from their crime. As I understand it. Hairy Hornet
  • Score: 5

12:49pm Thu 9 Jan 14

D_Penn says...

The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory.

Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so.

A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.
The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory. Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so. A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses. D_Penn
  • Score: 3

4:52pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Hairy Hornet says...

D_Penn wrote:
The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory.

Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so.

A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.
The sentence has to be proportionate to the amount involved and the timescale over which the offences took place plus taking any other mitigating factors. I would be more in favour of a period of community service undertaken in a public place where an element of shame coupled with a benefit to the community is achieved. Writing out a cheque is just a case of an expensive mistake like a speeding or parking fine with little opportunity to reflect on the consequences of the wrongdoing other than having a criminal conviction against your name and the consequences that brings.

I hope you reserve your contempt equally for those that are self employed who do not declare every penny of earnings which is defrauding the public purse in the same way as benefit fraud.
[quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory. Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so. A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.[/p][/quote]The sentence has to be proportionate to the amount involved and the timescale over which the offences took place plus taking any other mitigating factors. I would be more in favour of a period of community service undertaken in a public place where an element of shame coupled with a benefit to the community is achieved. Writing out a cheque is just a case of an expensive mistake like a speeding or parking fine with little opportunity to reflect on the consequences of the wrongdoing other than having a criminal conviction against your name and the consequences that brings. I hope you reserve your contempt equally for those that are self employed who do not declare every penny of earnings which is defrauding the public purse in the same way as benefit fraud. Hairy Hornet
  • Score: 4

5:29pm Thu 9 Jan 14

D_Penn says...

Hairy Hornet wrote:
D_Penn wrote: The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory. Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so. A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.
The sentence has to be proportionate to the amount involved and the timescale over which the offences took place plus taking any other mitigating factors. I would be more in favour of a period of community service undertaken in a public place where an element of shame coupled with a benefit to the community is achieved. Writing out a cheque is just a case of an expensive mistake like a speeding or parking fine with little opportunity to reflect on the consequences of the wrongdoing other than having a criminal conviction against your name and the consequences that brings. I hope you reserve your contempt equally for those that are self employed who do not declare every penny of earnings which is defrauding the public purse in the same way as benefit fraud.
Am I contemptuous of thieves? Yes, all of them. They have contempt for society so why should I feel anything else for those who choose to steal, with premeditation, from the rest of us who stay within the law, do our best with what we have and never even contemplate of putting our hand in the till.

Criminal behaviour is encouraged by those, like you, who think that shame, a criminal record and community service act as a deterrent to thieves. Evidence of recidivism and widespread benefit fraud proves otherwise.

The quality of shame you mention exists naturally in the law abiding majority who are too honest and proud to ever consider committing such a crime and would hate drawing benefits even when entitled to do so. Criminals show no such emotion except when standing in front of the judge trying to look as contrite as possible to get the leanest sentence they can. No prison? Result! Laugh down the pub with your mates at the liberal justice system and carry on.

What I fail to understand is what makes you so defending of people who know they are breaking the law but selfishly care only for themselves and steal anyway? It is clear to all but muddled thinkers that the threat of a hefty prison sentence would create fear and prevent the majority of deliberate abuses.

What you should also consider is that If someone knows that deliberate benefit fraud would carry a mandatory two year prison sentence and does it anyway, whose fault is it when they end up in prison? You seem to suggest that it would be the justice system being unfair rather than it being the criminals' stupid choice that gets them banged up.
[quote][p][bold]Hairy Hornet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory. Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so. A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.[/p][/quote]The sentence has to be proportionate to the amount involved and the timescale over which the offences took place plus taking any other mitigating factors. I would be more in favour of a period of community service undertaken in a public place where an element of shame coupled with a benefit to the community is achieved. Writing out a cheque is just a case of an expensive mistake like a speeding or parking fine with little opportunity to reflect on the consequences of the wrongdoing other than having a criminal conviction against your name and the consequences that brings. I hope you reserve your contempt equally for those that are self employed who do not declare every penny of earnings which is defrauding the public purse in the same way as benefit fraud.[/p][/quote]Am I contemptuous of thieves? Yes, all of them. They have contempt for society so why should I feel anything else for those who choose to steal, with premeditation, from the rest of us who stay within the law, do our best with what we have and never even contemplate of putting our hand in the till. Criminal behaviour is encouraged by those, like you, who think that shame, a criminal record and community service act as a deterrent to thieves. Evidence of recidivism and widespread benefit fraud proves otherwise. The quality of shame you mention exists naturally in the law abiding majority who are too honest and proud to ever consider committing such a crime and would hate drawing benefits even when entitled to do so. Criminals show no such emotion except when standing in front of the judge trying to look as contrite as possible to get the leanest sentence they can. No prison? Result! Laugh down the pub with your mates at the liberal justice system and carry on. What I fail to understand is what makes you so defending of people who know they are breaking the law but selfishly care only for themselves and steal anyway? It is clear to all but muddled thinkers that the threat of a hefty prison sentence would create fear and prevent the majority of deliberate abuses. What you should also consider is that If someone knows that deliberate benefit fraud would carry a mandatory two year prison sentence and does it anyway, whose fault is it when they end up in prison? You seem to suggest that it would be the justice system being unfair rather than it being the criminals' stupid choice that gets them banged up. D_Penn
  • Score: 0

6:43pm Thu 9 Jan 14

watfordrick says...

Ripping off the council is almost as bad as rape these days!
Ripping off the council is almost as bad as rape these days! watfordrick
  • Score: 0

11:40pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Hairy Hornet says...

D_Penn wrote:
Hairy Hornet wrote:
D_Penn wrote: The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory. Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so. A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.
The sentence has to be proportionate to the amount involved and the timescale over which the offences took place plus taking any other mitigating factors. I would be more in favour of a period of community service undertaken in a public place where an element of shame coupled with a benefit to the community is achieved. Writing out a cheque is just a case of an expensive mistake like a speeding or parking fine with little opportunity to reflect on the consequences of the wrongdoing other than having a criminal conviction against your name and the consequences that brings. I hope you reserve your contempt equally for those that are self employed who do not declare every penny of earnings which is defrauding the public purse in the same way as benefit fraud.
Am I contemptuous of thieves? Yes, all of them. They have contempt for society so why should I feel anything else for those who choose to steal, with premeditation, from the rest of us who stay within the law, do our best with what we have and never even contemplate of putting our hand in the till.

Criminal behaviour is encouraged by those, like you, who think that shame, a criminal record and community service act as a deterrent to thieves. Evidence of recidivism and widespread benefit fraud proves otherwise.

The quality of shame you mention exists naturally in the law abiding majority who are too honest and proud to ever consider committing such a crime and would hate drawing benefits even when entitled to do so. Criminals show no such emotion except when standing in front of the judge trying to look as contrite as possible to get the leanest sentence they can. No prison? Result! Laugh down the pub with your mates at the liberal justice system and carry on.

What I fail to understand is what makes you so defending of people who know they are breaking the law but selfishly care only for themselves and steal anyway? It is clear to all but muddled thinkers that the threat of a hefty prison sentence would create fear and prevent the majority of deliberate abuses.

What you should also consider is that If someone knows that deliberate benefit fraud would carry a mandatory two year prison sentence and does it anyway, whose fault is it when they end up in prison? You seem to suggest that it would be the justice system being unfair rather than it being the criminals' stupid choice that gets them banged up.
D_Penn. I suggest you read my comments again as you appear to have misunderstood them.

For the avoidance of doubt, can you confirm your contempt for those that defraud the public purse by under declaring their earnings to the taxman through cash in hand jobs? Or do you include them under the description of thieves?
I am referring to tax evasion of course, not tax avoidance as avoidance is not considered illegal (apparently).
[quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hairy Hornet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: The fine of £2,500 plus £1,500 costs is derisory. Even if the council gets back the defrauded amount, they should take action to reclaim consequential losses raised in the course of the investigation which would run into thousands more. That would take a significant chunk out of the £100,000 and deservedly so. A bigger issue is the reluctance of courts to apply custodial sentences for what is clearly premeditated theft. It's no wonder benefit fraud is so widespread. Even if a person is caught they end up no worse off than if they hadn't committed the act of fraud. As long as you have a sob story prepared, there's no real risk so many just take the chance. What we ne need is real bite put back into the justice system to provide strong deterrence against these abuses.[/p][/quote]The sentence has to be proportionate to the amount involved and the timescale over which the offences took place plus taking any other mitigating factors. I would be more in favour of a period of community service undertaken in a public place where an element of shame coupled with a benefit to the community is achieved. Writing out a cheque is just a case of an expensive mistake like a speeding or parking fine with little opportunity to reflect on the consequences of the wrongdoing other than having a criminal conviction against your name and the consequences that brings. I hope you reserve your contempt equally for those that are self employed who do not declare every penny of earnings which is defrauding the public purse in the same way as benefit fraud.[/p][/quote]Am I contemptuous of thieves? Yes, all of them. They have contempt for society so why should I feel anything else for those who choose to steal, with premeditation, from the rest of us who stay within the law, do our best with what we have and never even contemplate of putting our hand in the till. Criminal behaviour is encouraged by those, like you, who think that shame, a criminal record and community service act as a deterrent to thieves. Evidence of recidivism and widespread benefit fraud proves otherwise. The quality of shame you mention exists naturally in the law abiding majority who are too honest and proud to ever consider committing such a crime and would hate drawing benefits even when entitled to do so. Criminals show no such emotion except when standing in front of the judge trying to look as contrite as possible to get the leanest sentence they can. No prison? Result! Laugh down the pub with your mates at the liberal justice system and carry on. What I fail to understand is what makes you so defending of people who know they are breaking the law but selfishly care only for themselves and steal anyway? It is clear to all but muddled thinkers that the threat of a hefty prison sentence would create fear and prevent the majority of deliberate abuses. What you should also consider is that If someone knows that deliberate benefit fraud would carry a mandatory two year prison sentence and does it anyway, whose fault is it when they end up in prison? You seem to suggest that it would be the justice system being unfair rather than it being the criminals' stupid choice that gets them banged up.[/p][/quote]D_Penn. I suggest you read my comments again as you appear to have misunderstood them. For the avoidance of doubt, can you confirm your contempt for those that defraud the public purse by under declaring their earnings to the taxman through cash in hand jobs? Or do you include them under the description of thieves? I am referring to tax evasion of course, not tax avoidance as avoidance is not considered illegal (apparently). Hairy Hornet
  • Score: 3

12:47am Fri 10 Jan 14

D_Penn says...

@Hairy Hornet
Those that fail to pay due taxes mean that less revenue is collected and that deficit has to be made up by the rest of us in higher taxation. So yes, tax evasion is a form of theft.

What annoys me is that there are too many people out there who think that defrauding the state is acceptable. Now whilst I share everyone's aggravation that we are vastly over taxed and the money is poorly used by national and local governments, I resent those who think that being honest is only for the stupid and that defrauding the state is acceptable. The rest of us end up paying for these people's attitudes and supporting their enhanced lifestyles. Punishments that act as a strong deterrent are needed to get the message across to those who view the law abiding as gullible fools for our 'crime' of being honest to behave like good citizens or suffer the consequences.
@Hairy Hornet Those that fail to pay due taxes mean that less revenue is collected and that deficit has to be made up by the rest of us in higher taxation. So yes, tax evasion is a form of theft. What annoys me is that there are too many people out there who think that defrauding the state is acceptable. Now whilst I share everyone's aggravation that we are vastly over taxed and the money is poorly used by national and local governments, I resent those who think that being honest is only for the stupid and that defrauding the state is acceptable. The rest of us end up paying for these people's attitudes and supporting their enhanced lifestyles. Punishments that act as a strong deterrent are needed to get the message across to those who view the law abiding as gullible fools for our 'crime' of being honest to behave like good citizens or suffer the consequences. D_Penn
  • Score: 0

12:37pm Fri 10 Jan 14

sowhatsgoingonhere says...

Roach by name, Roach by nature...
Roach by name, Roach by nature... sowhatsgoingonhere
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree