Leeds pensioner jailed over £32,000 benefit fraud

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A pensioner who dishonestly claimed £32,000 in benefits over a four-year period has been sent to prison.

William Pearson, 68, was jailed for six months over the deception after a court heard how he lied to authorities about his wife’s employment status in order to claim pension credits.

Leeds Crown Court heard Pearson retired in 2009 after being made redundant from his job in the construction industry.

He told the Department of Work and Pensions that he was married and received no other form of income other than his wife’s claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Michael Jowett, prosecuting, said Pearson’s wife began working for a catering company in 2010 but he failed to declare it to the DWP.

Pearson continued to claim the money despite regularly receiving leaflets from the DWP informing him that he must notify them of any change in his circumstances which may affect his entitlement to benefits.

Pearson, of Woodend, Allerton Bywater, was interviewed after the offences came to light in December 2014 and initially claimed that his wife did not have a job.

He then claimed he thought he was entitled to the money on an unconditional basis.

Pearson pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change in circumstances affecting the entitlement to social security benefit.

Anne-Marie Hutton, mitigating, said Pearson had worked hard all his life until being made redundant and had no previous convictions.

Miss Hutton said Pearson was sorry for what he had done and was in poor health as he suffered from heart and lung problems.

The lawyer said Pearson did not have any debts and was now repaying the money he illegally claimed.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, told Pearson: “You engaged in a persistent fraud against the Department of Work and Pensions. It was not a moment’s thoughtlessness.

“It was deliberate dishonesty over a period of four years and it netted you a significant amount of money to which you were not entitled.

“I take into account your previous good character and that you were a hard working man and are voluntarily making repayments.

“But those like you who cheat the benefits system out of considerable amounts of money over a considerable period of time must be deterred.”

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