Crawley man pleads guilty to forging council tax receipts

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A man has been prosecuted by Crawley Borough Council for forging receipts for council tax payments he had not made.

Darren Smith, 48, of Gossops Green Lane, was in substantial arrears with his council tax payments, owing in excess of £3,000 and had failed to make arrangements to pay it, said a council spokesman.

As a result his account was passed to the enforcement agency.

When an enforcement agent visited his home in July 2014 for payment, Smith produced copies of three PayPoint receipts to show that he had paid a total of £1,190 over a period of three months towards his debt.

The spokesman said: “The agent accepted these and left the property, but when the receipts were presented to the council, it was established that the monies had not been credited to Mr Smith’s account and suspicion was raised.

“An investigation was launched by the council’s Corporate Fraud Team and it was found that the receipts were forgeries.”

Smith was interviewed under caution by a council fraud officer and admitted his deception.

The case was heard at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Friday (September 25) where Smith pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to section 3 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

He was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay the council costs of £500. He is in the process of making regular payments to the council to clear his council tax debt.

Councillor Peter Lamb, leader of the council, said: “This was a blatant attempt to avoid paying council tax, which helps fund vital services in the town, and will send a message to anyone else thinking of abusing the system.

“Anyone who is having difficulties paying their Council Tax should contact the council immediately.”