Night-time curfew for a benefit diddler age 60

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A 60-year-old benefits cheat swindled more than £16,000 after failing to declare his wife had moved back in with him.

Trevor Matthews, of Clough Place, Halifax, was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He will also abide to a four-month long electronically-monitored night-time curfew after he admitted offences contrary to social security legislation and fraud.

Bradford Crown Court was told Matthews obtained income support, incapacity benefit, housing benefit and council tax benefit over a five-year period amounting to an overpayment of £16,088.

Prosecutor Giles Bridge said Matthews had separated from his wife, but after she returned he maintained he was the only person living at the address. Matthews also failed to declare he worked in 2007 and 2008.

Barrister Simon Myers, for Matthews, said he was absolutely terrified of going to prison and was paying back the overpayment.

Judge James Goss QC said the case crossed the custody threshold but he was just prepared to suspend the sentence.

He added his offending had been deliberate in the sense that every time the defendant made a declaration he knew it was fraudulent.

After sentencing, Lord David Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform said: “Benefit thieves are costing the taxpayer almost £1billion per year.

“This money is intended to help those most in need not to line the pockets of criminals. We will continue to tackle this problem and reform benefits to make it less open to abuse.”