A 72-year-old man has avoided jail after claiming almost £25,000 in State benefits.
Martin Oliver falsely claimed the benefits while working as a lorry driver and building a house on a plot of land he owned.
Oliver pleaded guilty to four offences of dishonestly failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions and his local council that his circumstances relating to benefit entitlement had changed.
He also admitted making a false representation about the amount of capital he owned when applying for pension credit.
The court was told that Oliver has sixteen previous criminal convictions for offences including burglary, theft and assault but they all date back more than 20 years.
Judge Michael Cullum took into account Oliver’s current poor health and that of his partner and disabled son and sentenced him to eight months jail suspended for a year.
Oliver’s son, aged 40, has cerebral palsy and Oliver and his partner work as carers.
Judge Michael Cullum said,
“On the face of it, it appears to be a very serious matter that you had capital to buy land, build a house on it and sell it for profit.
“It has been explained to me, however, that this was for the benefit and care of your son Shane who needs lifelong round the clock care.
“Given those circumstances the seriousness of the offence is significantly less than it would otherwise have been. But you did repeatedly declare that you did not have any capital.
“You were also working for years while in receipt of benefits.”