Benefit cheat had £40k in bank

A BENEFIT cheat took handouts worth thousands of pounds – despite having more than £40,000 in the bank.

Paul Anderson, 41, claimed between £8,000 and £11,000 of incapacity, housing and council tax benefit and income support he was not entitled to.

Leeds Crown Court heard on Friday he began claiming incapacity benefit in 1994 after he developed Sharcot Marie Tooth disease, a degenerative nerve disorder. He began claiming housing and council tax benefit in 2009.

Prosecutor Simon Clegg said: “From December 2003 there were occasions when the capital in his two bank accounts would have made him unable to claim.

“In January 2009, he put £47,463 into his account which was the proceeds of a house sale. In interview he said this was a figure that reflected his equity in a property his ex-partner had sold. This took him way above the threshold and when claiming benefits he hadn’t said he had savings.”

Mr Clegg said Anderson, of Tynedale Walk, White Lee, had also worked as a forklift truck driver during 2007, meaning he would not have been entitled to benefits.

Anderson pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud.

In mitigation, Simon Perkins said Anderson had already paid back £2,000. He said when Anderson was questioned by investigators he admitted he had worked and had received the house sale money.

He said: “He considered that money to be savings rather than an amount of capital that he felt compelled to inform the authorities of.”

He said Anderson wanted to work but was unable to because of his illness, and had got the job as a forklift truck driver through a Department for Work and Pensions scheme.

He said: “This is a man who becomes depressed because he would prefer to be active and working. He was a working man before he was overtaken by a hereditary degenerative disorder. He will not be able to work again.

“The capital from the house sale should have been declared but at the time Mr Anderson viewed that as being what he had to pass on in due course to his children.”

He asked Recorder Harris not to impose a curfew, adding: “Mobility is the only luxury he has.”

Recorder Harris said: “The medical evidence I have seen portrays a depressing picture.”

He sentenced Anderson to a nine-month community order and ordered him to pay back the overpayments, to be determined at a hearing on September 29.