Clitheroe benefits cheat claimed £11,000

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A benefits cheat Clitheroe businessman got almost £11,000 he wasn’t entitled to by claiming he didn’t have a wife, a court heard.

Married dad Paul Bialecki (45) had an on/off relationship with spouse Janet, but she had never permanently left the home they shared in the town. When he was found out, he told the Department for Work and Pensions he and his wife couldn’t live with each other and couldn’t live without each other.

Bialecki 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, was given a community order with 12 months supervision and 150 hours unpaid work. He will face a proceeds of crime hearing at a later date.

The DWP prosecutor told Burnley Crown Court Bialecki claimed Employment and Support Allowance, to which he was not entitled, on three separate occasions. The offences were originally said to total more than £13,000, but it was now accepted it was £10,924.89. It was a fraud from the outset.

Investigations showed 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 went 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 Karl Berry, for Bialecki, said had been a number of unfortunate instances in his Iife, which had a profound effect upon him. He had long-standing difficulties, said Mr Berry, adding: “He is at pains to confirm he wishes to make full reparation. He has also indicated his personal shame at the offending.”

Recorder Stephen Medland QC told Bialecki the money he took over about two-and-a-half years was not an insignificant sum, but conceded: “There is substantial personal mitigation. You are prey to serious depression from time to time. You have significant family caring responsibilities and you are by and large a hard-working man who wants to do the best for his family.”