Pensioner tagged after benefits fraud

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A PENSIONER has been put on a tag after conning cash out of the state by failing to declare he had tens of thousands of pounds in savings.

Former merchant seaman James Turner was paid pension credit and council tax benefit on the basis he had just a few hundred pounds in his bank.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard the widower had up to £94,000 in one account and up to £17,000 in another.

Prosecutor Susan Hirst told the court: “If he had declared his savings he would not have been entitled to pension credit or council tax benefit.

“As a result of these offences he received overpayment of £18,374.”

Turner, from Sunderland, pleaded guilty to failing to notify a chance of circumstances and dishonestly making a false statement.

Mr Recorder Jeremy Freedman told Turner, who claimed he did not know he was meant to declare what money he had: “I do not accept you didn’t know you weren’t entitled to those benefits. You were making statements claiming you had only a few hundred pounds when in reality you had tens of thousands of pounds.”

The judge said Turner’s four-month prison sentence could be suspended for 12 months because of his previous good character and guilty plea.

Turner must abide by a 12-week electronically tagged curfew which means he must be at home between 9pm and 7am every day.