Builder given more time to pay

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A Clitheroe builder who owed the public purse more than £11,000 after a benefits scam, has been given another 28 days to pay up.

In April, Paul Bialecki (46) had been given six months to hand over the £11,085.69 he got fraudulently or, he was told, he would face seven months behind bars. But, he was back at Burnley Crown Court on Thursday, when a judge was told he had been unable to pay and sought more time.

At an earlier proceeds of crime hearing at the court, Recorder Paul Reid, QC, found Bialecki had benefitted to that tune and made a confiscation order for the amount. The court had been told he had available assets of £23,049.03.

Bialecki’s barrister at that hearing, Karl Berry had told the court that Bialecki, who was self- employed, fully intended to pay the full amount within the six months. He now has until November 19th to hand over the money, after Recorder Howard Bentham, QC, extended the payment time by 28 days and adjourned the hearing until that date.

At the earlier sentencing hearing, the court had been told how Bialecki got money he wasn’t entitled to by claiming he didn’t have a wife. He was said to have had an on/off relationship with spouse Janet, but she had never permanently moved out of the home they shared in Clitheroe. When he was found out, he was to tell the Department for Work and Pensions he and his wife couldn’t live with each other and couldn’t live without each other.

Bialecki, said to suffer serious depression sometimes, had admitted three counts of fraud, committed between January 2011 and July 2013 and had been committed for sentence by magistrates. The defendant, of Whittle Close, Clitheroe, had been given a community order with 12 months supervision and 150 hours unpaid work. The DWP prosecutor told Burnley Crown Court Bialecki claimed Employment and Support Allowance, to which he was not entitled, on three separate times.

Investigations showed that the defendant and his wife had never permanently separated. Mrs Bialecki worked at Sainsburys for 25 hours a week during the period of the deception. The couple had been on two holidays together and the bills were paid out of Mrs Bialecki’s bank account.

The prosecutor said the defendant was questioned twice, on September 3rd and October 8th. During the first interview, he accepted it was important to give correct information and accepted his wife had not officially left. On the second occasion, he said he felt sick after the previous interview. He told officials he and his wife couldn’t live with each other and couldn’t live without each other. They never had any particular intention to split up definitely.

Mr Berry had earlier told the court Bialecki had had a number of unfortunate instances in his Iife, which had had a profound effect upon him. He had long -standing difficulties.

The barrister had added: “He is at pains to confirm he wishes to make full reparation. He has also indicated his personal shame at the offending.”