Crown court appearance for Hartlepool man who failed to declare inheritance

Teesside Crown Court.
Teesside Crown Court.

A man who inherited thousands of pounds from his grandad ended up with a suspended jail sentence for wrongly claiming benefits.

Ian Harriman,33, admitted that he failed to declare the legacy to the Benefits Agency.

Investigators discovered that he received £20,000 into his bank account in July 2007 and another £15,000 in March 2008.

The first windfall arrived just weeks after the Hartlepool man began receiving Income Support in June 2007 because he is unfit for work.

Harriman can only walk with crutches because he suffers from sclerosis which seriously affects his back and his knees.

Prosecutor Jessica Slaughter told Teesside Crown Court that because he did not declare his inheritance to the agency, he had been overpaid by £14,752.

He now faces a Proceeds of Crime case in the New Year to recover the money.

In interview he said that he inherited the money from his grandad’s will and he had used it to buy presents and to go on holiday.

Miss Slaughter said Harriman, who was of previous good character, was repaying it at £59 a fortnight from his benefit.

Jim Withyman, defending, said Harriman would lose £8,000 from his bank account and another £7,000 over the years.

He added: “He knows he has done wrong.

“He has considerable mobility problems, he is not able to work (to do unpaid work) but he could be made subject to a curfew order.”

The judge Recorder David Dobbin told Harriman that it had been dishonest not to declare his legacy.

The judge added: “I think that the risk of offending again is low.

“You will be repaying these sums from your continued benefits.”

Harriman, of Thornton Street, Hartlepool, was given a 12-weeks jail sentence suspended for 12 months with a court surcharge of £80 after he pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.