A cheating oven repairman stole nearly £60,000 in benefits while lying to his wife about being unemployed for seven years, a court has heard.
Gary Poole, 60, secretly worked on fixing ovens every day while his wife received tens of thousands of pounds in benefits that she wasn’t entitled to because she thought he was unemployed.
Bolton Crown Court heard that between November 2012 and February 2019 she claimed around £52,000 in employment support allowance (ESA) as well as £5,000 in housing benefits from March 2015 to February 2019.
Poole, of Bolton, Lancashire, was handed a 12-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two offences of benefit fraud.
Prosecutors accepted that his wife had no knowledge of what he was up to and so faced no action.
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Judge Ciaran Rankin said: “I have said before, this type of offending which you have admitted to is not a victimless crime.
“The next time you or one of your friends calls on the police and no-one is available is it in part because of offending like this.
“You have stolen from the state which society relies on to provide services like the fire service and nurses. You were in the unusual case of leaving the house dressed for work pretending you were not going to work.
“You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and have been of hitherto good character.”
Prosecutor Kyra Badman told the court the two offences related to the claiming of the two types of benefits.
She said: “His partner was receiving ESA from November 2012 to February 2019 and housing benefit from March 2015 to February 2019.
“He started working in repair services for an oven chain. His partner did not know about the income.
“For housing benefit the total loss to Wigan Council was just over £5,000, at £5,163. For ESA the total loss to the DWP was just under £52,000 at £51,917.”
Poole, who the court heard has no previous convictions, was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service as part of his sentence and will return to court in March for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.
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