A big £50,000 bingo winner from Blakenall and her husband have been found guilty of benefit fraud after reportedly continuing to claim income support and housing benefits even though they were no longer entitled to do so. The pair’s claim has at first been legitimate but as soon as they were in receipt of the £50,000 bingo win were required to declare their change of circumstances to the relevant benefits agencies. Not only did Nicholas and Francis Bannister fail to do so, but they also continued their claims until they were caught in Dec 2008.
Money used to buy luxuries including Breast implants
The Department of Work and Pensions discovered that Nicholas Bannister has claimed £12,977 and his wife Francis claimed £8,130 of which they were not entitled to. The pair disputed that they had received the full bingo win; instead Francis Bannister claimed that she had only received a 25% share of the bingo win the rest of which was split with others bingo players. The quarter share of the bingo win had according to Ms Bannister been used to obtain breast implant surgery, get married, purchase a car and buy gifts for their children. Ms Bannister was however unable to supply the court with any documented evidence to show where the money had actually gone.
Pair found guilty with jail term for husband
The bingo winning couple were in court in Walsall accused of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting entitlement to benefit; both were found guilty of the charges. Mr Bannister who has previous convictions for similar offences was immediately given a custodial sentence and will serve three months in jail. Mrs Bannister was given a six week jail term suspended for 18 months, £100 costs and 80 hours community service order. The couple are claiming that they have no money now and live 'hand to mouth' trying to cope without any cash.