Former Hare Krishna priest jailed

A former Hare Krishna priest from Radlett has been jailed for two months after claiming more than £9,000 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Jayesh Patel, 41, of Willow Way, Radlett, pleaded guilty to seven counts of false accounting, relating to claims he had made for housing benefit and Council Tax benefit between July 1997 and September 2002.

He has now paid back all the money he claimed, but was still sent to jail at Watford Magistrates Court on Monday.

When he first applied for benefits in 1997, Patel claimed he only had one bank account, containing £800.

But the court heard that over the years he held various other bank accounts, including a three year bond and an ISA account, which contained more than £1,500, and would not have received housing benefit and Council Tax benefit if he had declared them.

In 2000 he claimed he was working 30 hours per week as a priest, employed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISHCON) at the Bhaktividenta Manor, Letchmore Heath.

Patel's dishonesty was discovered when Hertsmere Borough Council's verification officer made a routine visit last December.

The officer asked Patel for some identification, which he produced after rummaging through a drawer full of personal papers, including bank books. The officer alerted Hertsmere's fraud team, who then interviewed Patel.