A BENEFITS fraudster who claimed almost £74,000 over ten years while working at a supermarket was jailed yesterday.

Between June 2001 and May 2011, Keith Meyrick, 52, of Jenkins Street, Maesycwmmer, worked at Tesco in Ystrad Mynach while claiming incapacity benefit and disability allowance.

Over that period Meyrick claimed £50,533.70p of incapacity benefit and £23,401.20p disability benefit.

In 1988 Meyrick had an accident at work which meant he could not take up employment.

But in 2001 Meyrick applied for a physical job at Tesco stacking shelves and moving goods around. He worked 36 hours a week and earned £8.39 an hour as a grocery team leader. In his application he stated that he had no muscle problems or back or leg problems.

Prosecuting, Joanna James said: "In the questionnaire which asked if he had problems with lifting or had problems walking he said no.

"He said that he was perfectly able to carry out this kind of employment."

Although Meyrick was working and the Department of Work and Pensions regularly sent reminders that he must inform them if his circumstances had changed he did not notify the authorities.

In 2001 the DWP investigated Meyrick and he was asked to attend a meeting which he did so but did not answer any questions.

Defending Andrew Jones said that Meyrick was of previous clean character.

He said: "He accepts full responsibility for his actions."

When Meyrick appeared in Newport Crown Court he used a walking stick but his defence said this was because of a hip replacement in June and not for sympathy. Meyrick's house is currently up for sale and the proceeds of this sale expected to be £18 to £20k will be used to pay off some of the money he fraudulently claimed.

Meyrick pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining money by deception, three counts of making false claims and two counts of failing to disclose information.

Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said on sentencing Meyrick: "It is vital in my judgement that the public have confidence in our benefit system."

He went on to say that Meyrick had claimed benefit fraudulently over a long period of time.

He continued: "Offences like this are easy to commit but difficult to detect. By the time you had been detected you had claimed around £73,000.

"You have committed a criminal offence and the sentence has a terrible affect on your family."

Meyrick was sentenced to eight months in prison and must serve half before he can be released.