18 Mar 2013

Lottery winner still feels entitled to benefits

A lottery winner who claimed £13,000 in benefits after his win has escaped a jail term.

Michael Duthie won £250,000 in March 2010 but continued to claim jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit, while spending £50,000 of his prize on buying his council house.

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro ordered Duthie to carry out 180 hours of community service at a sentencing hearing at Dundee Sheriff Court.

She said: 'I still don't understand your attitude or why you think your fellow citizens and taxpayers should pay for you - why should they pay for you when you have £250,000 there. That's a bizarre attitude.'

His lawyer also told the court that Duthie was now appealing a ruling that he wasn't allowed benefits - despite telling the court he could access his invested money to pay a fine if necessary.

Duthie, from Dundee, admitted claiming £7173.79 in jobseeker’s allowance, £1391.82 in council tax benefit and £4825.52 in housing benefit after his windfall - a total of £13,391.13.

His scam was discovered after an anonymous tip-off.

He told investigators from the Department of Work and Pensions that there was 'no money left' and it was 'all gone on the bookies'.

The court heard that Duthie was living almost 'hand to mouth' - because he was not earning any interest on the 'substantial' sums he invested in bonds.

Duthie's bank statements showed that £250,000 had been deposited in his account by Camelot on March 1 2010.

It is unclear as to whether he won the cash on a scratchcard or in a Lotto draw.

Ross Bennett, defending, said Duthie had given £50,000 of his winnings to his family, and spent another £50,000 on buying his council house.

He said a substantial amount of the money - understood to be tens of thousands of pounds - was invested in bonds, but that had left Duthie without any cash.

Mr Bennett said:
He now realises that what he did wasn't right but he was in the benefits culture and it was like his lottery win was forgotten about.

I hate to use the phrase a hand to mouth existence, but he's not getting any money - he's getting no interest from his bonds.

He has not had any benefits at all for over a year, and that matter is being taken to appeal.

I don't know his chances of success, however, but there is a possibility he will restart benefits.

He thinks he has been harshly dealt with and his concepts that he could simply be admonished is completely and utterly ridiculous.

Sheriff Munro told Duthie: 'You seem you accept now that the world doesn't owe you a living. This order is a direct alternative to imprisonment, and if it is breached then you will come back before me and I'll have little alternative but to send you to custody.'

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