Gambler claimed more than £20,000 in bogus benefits

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A GAMBLING addict claimed more than £20,000 in benefits, even though he was working.

Terence Anthony Donoghue fraudulently collected unemployment and housing benefits, as well as pension and council tax credits, while working as a self-employed market researcher for a window company.

Sunderland Magistrates Court heard how the 63-year-old, who suffers from arthritis and hearing problems, made the phony claims as he struggled to find cash to support his addiction, using “every penny he earned” on bets.

He admitted the offences when he was interviewed by investigators, the court was told, and made a full confession.

The court heard how the total claims, made over a two-year period, amounted to £20,497.

Donoghue, of Aysgarth Avenue, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to two counts of retaining wrongful credit and one of fraud by failing to disclose information.

Prosecuting for the Department of Work and Pensions, Paul Heron said: “He signed several declarations during the time of his claims.

“He failed to report that he was working and, as well Job Seekers’ Allowance, he received pension credit for the period for which he was not entitled.

“He also claimed housing and council tax benefit because he said he was not working.”

In his defence, it was said Donoghue, who is single, was of previous good character and has cured his addiction after attending sessions with Gamblers Anonymous.

Trish Mitten, defending, told the bench: “It is unfortunate and sad that someone appears before you of such an age and previous good character.

“He is someone who developed a gambling addiction and every penny he earned he spent on his gambling addiction.

“Since then, he has sought help and has attended Gamblers’ Anonymous.

“He is not gambling any more.”

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports.