Judge gives UKIP councillor 12 months community order at sentencing hearing at Peterborough Crown Court
18:14 28 March 2014
A UKIP county councillor has been given a 12 month community order after admitting to making a false representation.
Councillor Peter Lagoda, of Cocketts Drive, Wisbech, who won his Wisbech seat at the 2013 election, told Fenland District Council in 2009 he was living at South Beach, Heacham, but was instead living with his then girl friend, now wife, Maria Lagoda, in Frinton Way, Wisbech.
Maria Lagoda, of Cocketts Drive, was also given a 12 month community order after admitting to six counts of failing to notify a change in circumstances for the purpose of obtaining benefit.
She failed to notify Fenland District Council that Cllr Lagoda was staying with her in Appledorn Walk, Wisbech, and later at Frinton Way.
As a result, between June 08 and November 10, she received £24,861 in housing benefit, income support and council tax benefit to which she was not entitled.
Peterborough Crown Court was told Cllr Lagoda had already re-paid £1,327 in council tax, while his wife has paid back £1,327 in council tax and £1,500 in housing benefit.
The pair was originally charged with fraud but these charges were dropped in favour of lesser offences, which removed any reference to “dishonesty”, on February 24.
Sally Hobson, for the prosecution, said: “In August 2003 Mrs Lagoda signed a declaration saying she understood action would be taken if she gave incorrect information.
“It is disingenuous to suggest that the offences are not of dishonesty.”
But judge Sean Enright, passing sentence, said he was satisfied there was no dishonesty involved.
He said: “I accept that fraud and dishonesty are not in fact ingredients in this case.
“I think Maria Lagoda is at very little risk of re-offending and custody would be a disproportionate, oppressive and unnecessary step for a 59 year-old woman with health problems.
“Peter Lagoda deserves credit for entering a guilty plea and has an excellent work record. He has little chance of re-offending.”
Timothy Bowden, defending Mrs Lagoda, said that she is disabled, suffering from a degenerative spine disease and has arthritis in both feet.
He said Cllr Lagoda had stayed at her house when she was unwell to take care of her and was by no means a permanent presence.
He said: “This is a very considerable distance away from a case where someone has set out to get something they were not entitled to from the benefits system.
“There was no attempt to hide the fact that they were in a relationship.
“She is a woman of good character who has never sought the limelight but it is reasonable to assume that what has happened is the talk of the town, which is something she has had to bear and is significant punishment in itself.
“She is re-paying the money the maximum possible rate.”
Maryan Syed, defending Cllr Lagoda, said he was a man of good character who had worked all his life.
She said: “Peter Lagoda feels genuine remorse about what has happened. He is a man of good character who has worked all his life. He has served in the German merchant navy and the British army, doing tours of Ireland and Cyprus.
“He has also served as a councillor and done lots of fund-raising work.
“When he was caring for his gravely ill father, who sadly died last April, he did not claim carer’s allowance.”
Cllr Lagoda remains suspended from the UKIP group on Cambridgeshire County Council. They will now meet to discuss his future.
UKIP party chairman Steve Crowther wrote to Cllr Lagoda on February 26 explaining that his membership would not be renewed as a result of the court case.
Cllr Lagoda has appealed that decision.