A father-of-three who was caught lying about paying his mother’s medical bills in Nigeria to claim housing assistance has been prosecuted.

Olufemi Olusegun Shotunde, of Martin Street in Thamesmead, had previously appeared at Bexley Magistrates’ Court, on August 2, to plead guilty to a charge that he made a false representation during an interview at the Bexley civic offices in November.

He claimed he was entitled to accommodation or assistance because he had accrued rent arrears due to paying his mother’s medical bills at a clinic in Nigeria.

Investigations by Bexley Council’s housing service found that Shotunde had been evicted due to non-payment of rent amounting to £2,849.44 but failed to locate the clinic in Nigeria, said to have treated the defendant’s mother

Shotunde’s mother was traced and interviewed by the council’s fraud team. She confirmed that she had not received treatment in Nigeria and had not had medical bills paid by Shotunde.

She also stated that she had received treatment for cancer, but that this was in the UK and she had not been to Nigeria since 2014.

The total cost to the Council in housing Shotunde and his family was estimated to be in the region of £7,000.

After the sentencing hearing on August 24 cabinet member for adults' services, Councillor Brad Smith, welcomed the punishment.

He said: “Housing fraud is a serious offence. It not only puts a strain on public finances, but it deprives genuine housing applicants from using that accommodation. I hope the message is clear that where fraud of council services is found, the council will prosecute.”

The court heard that Shotunde, who works as a security guard, had been in financial trouble at the time of the offence when his pregnant partner had lost her job.

Magistrates heard he had served seven years in the army, does voluntary work and was remorseful and of the blemish on his previous good character.

The council’s prosecuting solicitor argued that such offences were a drain on the public purse and deprived the local authority of resources which could have helped genuinely homeless housing applicants. It was further pointed out that a blatant lie had been told in claiming that paying medical bills had caused a shortage of money.

Shotunde, 33, was given a 12 month community order incorporating 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to the Council at £50 per month.