Pensioner escapes jail due to health

A PENSIONER who falsely claimed more than £43,000 in benefits escaped an immediate jail term because of his serious ill-health.John Hayes, 72, claimed benefits over a 10 year period failing to declare that his wife was working in a chicken factory Norwich Crown Court heard last week.

A PENSIONER who falsely claimed more than £43,000 in benefits escaped an immediate jail term because of his serious ill-health.

John Hayes, 72, claimed benefits over a 10 year period failing to declare that his wife was working in a chicken factory Norwich Crown Court heard last week.

He received income support and later pension credit and also council tax and housing benefits to which he was not entitled to.

Hayes of Camden Road, Great Yarmouth, admitted failing to notify the authorities about a change in circumstances and making a false statement.

However after hearing that Hayes suffered from a number of serious health problems Judge Simon Barham passed a 51 week jail sentence suspended for two years. He also imposed a six month curfew under which Hayes has to stay at home from 12 noon to midnight, seven days a week.

He told Hayes that he accepted his claim had started out as a genuine one but then he had failed to inform anyone when his wife got a job in a factory.

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He said normally someone would face two years in jail for such an offence.

“The public would be horrified to hear that people defrauding the state of large sums of money were not going to prison. But your case is truly exceptional.”

He said a report from his GP showed he was so unwell he would not stand going to prison.

David Wilson, mitigating, said: “This was not a claim made fraudulently at the outset.”

He said that Hayes had suffered a stroke and also from liver and kidney failure among other health problems.

“He has suffered a marked physical and mental deterioration.”