Judge spares Hartlepool man who failed to declare inheritance in £11,000 benefit fraud case

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court

A man who suffered years of pain after a works accident was shown mercy by a judge yesterday when he admitted making a false statement for benefit cash.

Brian Whitelock, 54, from Hartlepool, was working as an industrial painter in May 2014 when he was seriously injured - leaving him with a crushed pelvis and spine.

Teesside Crown Court hear that, when he claimed benefit after his sick pay period ended, he failed to declare that he had £18,753 in the bank.

The Department of Work and Pensions prosecuted him for not declaring the money.

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said the total amount of money defrauded between January 2016 and March last year was £11,601.

Bank records later confirmed that the money in Whitelock's account was an inheritance which he was holding for his son until he was older.

The court heard Whitelock had not touched any of it.

Whitelock, of Rossmere Way, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to obtain benefit.

The judge said that he regarded it as a case of overpayment because Whitelock would have been entitled to something from the DWP.

Any amount to be paid back will be decided at a Proceeds of Crime confiscation hearing in August.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said that It was an exceptional case and he sentenced Whitelock to a 12-month conditional discharge.

The judge said that the punishment would normally be a mid-range community unpaid work order, but Whitelock was unfit and was awaiting the latest in a series of operations.

Judge Ashurst told him:”You were overpaid over a period of time.

”Had you declared the fact, it would have meant that you would have been paid at a different level.”

Kelleigh Lodge, defending, said that Whitelock was part-owner of a house which was being sold and he was making arrangements to pay the money back.

A pre-sentence report by the probation service said Whitelock maintains the money in the bank was not his, but admitted he should have said it was in his account.