Benefit fraud Lottery winner Edward Putman jailed


A convicted rapist who won nearly £5 million on the lottery but continued to fraudulently claim benefits has been jailed for nine months.

Edward Putman, 46, who was convicted of rape in 1993, won the life-changing sum in September 2009.

But he continued applying for housing benefit and income support and even wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and his local council claiming he was broke and could not even afford to eat.

In reality he was splashing out on two sports cars and a new house.

Today at St Albans Crown Court, after admitting two counts of benefit fraud, he was jailed by Judge Andrew Bright QC.

The judge described Putman's fraudulent claims as "a pack of lies from start to finish" and said his letters to the authorities were "as calculated a piece of deception as anyone could imagine".

The judge told Putman he was "motivated by sheer greed" and continued to claim despite winning millions.

"It was greed on a scale which, frankly, defies belief, especially in an economic climate when welfare budgets are being cut and those who are properly entitled are struggling to make ends meet."

Judge Bright said Putman's fraudulent claims, which spanned 20 months, were so serious and his "culpability so grave" that Sentencing Guidelines Council advice about punishment has "little application to a case like this".

Putman, who was also ordered to pay £425 prosecution costs, began receiving income support in 2000 on the basis of being incapacitated by anxiety.

In order to do so he needed proof from his doctor of his mental health problems and signed a document confirming that he would notify the authorities if his condition changed.

But when he failed to attend a medical check-up in 2009, his benefits were suspended, before being officially ended in April the following year.

In July 2010, 10 months after being made a millionaire by his lottery win, he wrote to the DWP, begging them to reinstate his benefits.

He claimed he did not attend the medical examination because he was too ill.

"I lost a lot of weight and had lot to deal with," wrote Putman, of Station Road, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.

"I didn't know whether I would still be alive. I'm on the brink of being evicted."

He also wrote to Dacorum Borough Council saying that he had been forced to survive on handouts from his family and friends, and had not been able to pay his council tax or rent, apart from putting £200 towards it, which he had borrowed from his family.

His benefits were then reinstated and were also back-dated, as he had asked them to be, to January 2010.

But that October the authorities became suspicious when Putman tried to buy his council house with £84,000 in cash.

Putman claimed he wanted to pay in cash because he did not have a bank account, but when the case was referred to Watford Fraud Section it was discovered that he did have one with £100,000 in it.

Detectives soon found the fraudster also had an account with St James's Bank - the bank recommended to lottery winners by operator Camelot.

Its records showed that, on September 10 2009, two large sums of cash were paid into his account with them - one for just over £2.5 million, and the other for £2.4 million, the court heard.

Putman's barrister Paul Millan said he repaid the money before pleading guilty at a magistrates court.

Putman claimed a total of £4,809 from Dacorum Borough Council between September 2009 and October 2010 for housing and council tax benefit, and £8,033 from the DWP between September 2009 and May last year.

Outside court, Sherri Bexon-Morgan, a DWP investigator, said "hard working families across the country" would be outraged by Putman.