[A] builder who lied about his home being flooded in order to obtain a £5,000 grant has been found guilty of fraud and could now face a prison sentence.
Magistrates heard how Mark Postlethwaite from Levens, near Kendal, submitted an application for a flood resilience grant to South Lakeland Council (SLDC) claiming his home flooded during Storm Desmond in December 2015.
He pleaded not guilty to two charges under the Fraud Act of 2006 but was found guilty after the court heard Postlethwaite’s evidence was “vague, evasive and unreliable.”
Barrow Magistrates Court was told how the 54 year-old submitted two invoices to SLDC for flood resilience work to be carried out, one in the name of his own construction company and a second from what he described as an independent contractor. Officers became suspicious because both invoices, for £5,101, were identical.
SLDC began an investigation and discovered Postlethwaite’s home at Foulshaw Cottages in Levens had not flooded during Storm Desmond as he had claimed.
A neighbour gave evidence in court to confirm the properties were not affected.
Postlethwaite denied the charges claiming he had signed a blank application form for a flood resilience grant which had been supplied by a third party. Magistrates described his story as “unbelievable.”
SLDC’s Senior Solicitor, Nicola Hartley, said Postlethwaite had blatantly tried to obtain flood grant money to which he was not entitled.
“This is valuable public money which is used to help people who were genuinely flooded and to assist those who remain displaced by Storm Desmond. If council officers are suspicious of this kind of fraudulent activity they will investigate and we will prosecute,” said Nicola.
Postlethwaite will be sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court on 11 August.