Jail for £20k benefits cheat from Whalley

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A man who dishonestly claimed more than £20,000 in benefits while working has been jailed for 21 weeks.

Graham Carter’s offending spanned a period of nearly six years overall. Preston Crown Court heard that during that time frame he was dealt with by another court for benefit fraud over a small period.

In that instance, back in 2009, he had been given a conditional discharge.

Carter (46), who was living in Woodfield View, Whalley, but has more recently lived in Walton-le-Dale, had pleaded guilty to three offences of making false statements in order to claim benefit.

Miss Lucy Wright (prosecuting) said he began claiming Income Support in October 2005. The offences allegedly began in May 2006, running to the end of 2008, then the end of that year, until April 2012

During the first period he had a full-time job with a security firm. During the second, he had part-time employment. He failed to tell the authorities when he got work and consequently there had been a total overpayment of Income Support of £20,666.

In 2009 he was given a conditional discharge regarding another benefits type case, covering a time scale from September 2007, through to November 2008.

Mr James Hawks (defending) said although the total amount involved in the present case was significant, it had involved very small weekly amounts.

“There is no question here of exploiting the system in order to embark on a lavish lifestyle. He used the benefit to top up low income, to get by,” said Mr Hawks.

But Judge Heather Lloyd said the offences had occured over a prolonged period and what happened had not been a mere oversight.

She told Carter: “You have exploited the system and in these times, when money is extremely tight for everyone and the government, it simply cannot be tolerated, particularly in your circumstances”.