Newport benefit cheat claimed £14,500 while working
1:30pm Tuesday 19th February 2013 in Gwent news
A BENEFIT cheat who claimed more than £14,500 in government handouts while working has avoided a jail sentence.
Mark Smith, 35, received the incapacity benefit and income support during stints at companies including Tesco and Smart Solutions Recruitment between 2006 and 2011. Crown prosecutor Ruth Hale said he had received a total of £14,596 in benefits.
Smith, of Partridge Way, Newport, was convicted for three similar offences in 2002, Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard.
He was given a sixmonth custodial sentence, suspended for two years, as the court was told he had mistakenly made the claims after starting work. The court heard that if he had claimed the incapacity benefit and income support before starting employment, he would have been jailed.
Cwmbran magistrate Ken Davies told him: “You had started to work. Had it been the other way round, you would be sleeping elsewhere tonight.”
Smith was given 150 hours community service and must pay £85 prosecution costs and an £80 surcharge.
He was found guilty of six charges of benefit fraud in his absence at an earlier hearing at the court.
Smith told the court: “I was employed on a casual basis as and when. Work came, sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad.”
His solicitor, Robert Wade, added: “Clearly there were previous offences, on whatever basis. I’m not trying to backtrack on this.”
Smith was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for failing to notify a change of circumstances and another three months consecutively for making a false statement to obtain benefits under the Social Security Administration Act 1992.
He was also given three-month suspended sentences for four other charges of making false statements and failing to notify changes of circumstances, all to run concurrently.