A BENEFIT cheat who claimed almost £50,000 by failing to declare he had a partner living with him has been warned he may be put behind bars.
Kevin McFarlane claimed handouts on the basis he was a single man who lived alone between June 2006 and September last year.
But Newcastle Crown Court heard throughout the five year period the 52-year-old was sharing his home with his partner, who was working.
As a result of his dishonesty he was paid £46,370 in benefits he was not entitled to.
The court heard McFarlane was collared after the authorities received a tip-off that there was a woman living with him at Wilton Gardens South, Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside.
An inquiry was immediately launched which involved investigators making credit checks at the house and setting up surveillance at the property.
Prosecutor Angus Taylor told the court: “There was a credit check on the address which showed up various credit applications made using that address by the said partner.
“Surveillance was deemed appropriate to watch the address for a period of time , to see if the partner could be identified.
“In June last year on eight random days selected she was sighted leaving the defendant’s address in the early morning, on her way to work. We say, showing quite clearly this was her residing at that address.”
During interview McFarlane told investigators he was an alcoholic and initially claimed his partner was at the house so frequently as she was his carer.
He later admitted she had been living with him.
Mr Farlane admitted two charges of benefit fraud.
Jonathan Cousins, defending, said McFarlane is now a full-time care for his
partner , who has had cancer.
Mr Cousins said: “He is now effectively a full-time carer for her and claiming benefits entirely legitimately.”
McFarlane is repaying the money back at a rate of £20 per week.
Judge Brian Forster QC adjourned the case for 14 days for McFarlane’s defence team to produce information about his exact role in caring for his partner.
But the judge warned a custodial sentence was what he had in mind.
Judge Forster told him: “The whole country is concerned about people who claim benefits that they are not entitled to but if there are overwhelming personal circumstances in any case, clearly I would consider those.
“I need to have a clear view from someone else as to the importance of your care for your partner.”