Man pleads guilty to dishonestly applying to buy Torpoint council house

Michael Raymond Whittaker (68) formerly of 5 The Chalet, Downderry, Torpoint attended Truro Crown Court on Wednesday 05 July 2017 and pleaded guilty to one count for fraud by dishonest false representation on a right to buy application.

For the offence, under Sections 1 and 2 of the Fraud Act 2013, of dishonestly making a false statement on a right to buy application, he was sentenced to a 12 month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.

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Mr Whittaker had said that the property to which his application related was his main and only home, when in fact he was living abroad in Lanzarote.

Mr Whittaker had applied for and obtained a tenancy of 5 The Chalet in Downderry, near Torpoint in June of 2010.   One of the terms of getting such a tenancy is that you use it as your only home.

In late 2014, Mr Whittaker moved out of the property leaving his ex-partner there.

In August 2015 the Council received a notice from Mr Whittaker claiming the right to buy the house, even though he was no longer living there, in breach of his tenancy which sets out that you are only eligible if the property is your only or main home.

If the application had been accepted, Mr Whittaker would have obtained a 50% reduction in the cost of the house, totalling £54,125.

Mr Whittaker was sentenced to a 12 months custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay the Council’s full costs totalling £6,424.90 and a £100 Victim Surcharge.

Pete Jarman, Landlord Services Director Cornwall Housing Ltd said: “Cornwall Housing Ltd. takes ‘right to buy’ fraud very seriously and works closely in partnership with Cornwall Council’s Corporate Fraud team to identify, investigate and potentially prosecute cases of both tenancy and right to buy fraud. It is important that such a scarce resource as social housing goes to individuals and families who are in genuine housing need.”

Simba Muzarurwi, Cornwall Council’s Head of Internal Audit and Risk said:  “Our team of professional investigators continue to work with Cornwall Housing Ltd to combat fraud.  The Council has a zero tolerance policy on all forms of fraud so the Corporate Counter Fraud Team will leave no stone unturned to ensure that those responsible for perpetrating fraud are brought to book. By continuous checking and investigation of anomalies in information supplied by tenants and potential tenants, we can help ensure that housing in Cornwall is allocated to those in most need.” 

Cornwall Council operates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to fraud and corruption. If you suspect fraud is occurring we would be happy to talk to you on our confidential fraud hotline. Call us on freephone 0800 7316125 or you can contact us by emailing


Story posted 10 July 2017