A GRANDFATHER whose family was murdered in an arson attack on his home has been convicted of benefit fraud after he allowed his daughter to stay with him.
Mumtaz Chishty’s wife, Hameeda Begum, and his four-year-old granddaughter, Alana Mian, were killed in a blaze at Little Holme Walk, Great Lever, in June 2008. Their killers have never been caught.
Yesterday at Bolton Magistrates Court 77-year-old Chishty pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change of circumstances, which affected his entitlement to the severe disability premium of his pension credit.
The court heard how, following the fire, Chishty’s daughter and Alana’s mother, Saima Mian, who was badly burned in the fire, returned to her home in Australia.
But when her marriage ran into problems she returned to England and stayed with her father at his home in Westbourne Avenue, Bolton, in December 2011.
Glenn Anderton, prosecuting, told the magistrates how Chishty put her name on the electoral roll and Mrs Mian named the address as her main residence in various correspondence.
The court heard Mrs Mian has been prosecuted herself for benefit fraud. Mr Anderton said Mrs Mian’s presence at Chishty’s home meant he was not entitled to severe disability premium and he was wrongly paid a total of £2,756.71 between December 2011 and July 2013.
Chishty told investigators his daughter had initially spent three weeks living with him and then lived with various other members of his extended family, although he admitted she also stayed with him twice a week.
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Ajmal Hussain, defending, stressed retired bus driver Chishty was a man of good character who was well regarded in the community and who had been badly affected by the death of his wife and granddaughter.
He added: “To this day he has not been able to move on, particularly as the perpetr-ators have never been found and brought to justice.”
Mr Hussain said that Chishty had not deliberately claimed money he was not entitled to.
He added: “He accepts that he should have notified the DWP, but he said he was not aware of the requirements.
“He wants to be seen as a decent man who is associated with good people in society.”
Magistrates accepted that Chishty had not attempted to act dishonestly.
He was fined £235 and ordered to pay £2,756.71 compensation plus £400 prosecution costs and a £24 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the case, Mr Hussain said Chishty was “a proud man and doesn’t want anyone to think any worse of him. He was caught out by technicality.”
Chishty said he was glad the case was finally over.
He added: “I have learned this lesson. I didn’t know about the law and rules and regulations.”