A TORTURE victim who was given political asylum when he fled from Africa was entitled to claim benefits from the British taxpayer - but also found a job in Doncaster earning up to £2,000 a month.
Instead of signing off benefits, 30-year-old Eddie Samuel netted more than £21,000 in fraudulent claims while he was working at Doncaster Cables under a fictitious name, Doncaster Crown Court was told.
Samuel, who spent time in a military jail in his home country of Burundi, narrowly avoided doing time in a British prison when he appeared before Judge Jacqueline Davies. He pleaded guilty to 13 offences of making fraudulent claims for Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing and Council Tax benefits.
Judge Davies imposed a suspended prison sentence of 36 weeks, ordered Samuel to do 180 hours of unpaid work, and placed him on curfew for two months at his flat in Westminster House, Intake.
Angela Wrottesley, prosecuting for the Department for Work and Pensions, said he received a total overpayment of £21,193 over a three year period.
Since being detected he had paid back £2,223.
She said he was legitimately allowed to claim benefits because he had genuine medical certificates stating he was suffering severe depression as a result of torture and sexual abuse inflicted in Burundi. But between May 2005 and December 2008 he was employed by Doncaster Cables under another name.
He earned between £125 and £2,000 a month.
Samuel’s counsel, Heidi Cotton, said he had a history of torture and sexual abuse, with evidence of scars and injuries, which was why his application for asylum had been successful.
“Prior to coming to the UK he was treated appallingly.
“He had been taken from his family by armed Government guards and interrogated about his older brothers, who had joined rebel groups fighting against the Government.
“He was incarcerated in military barracks where he suffered torture, being raped and being beaten repeatedly.”