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16 Sep 2016

Benefit thief's prison sentence confirmed

A Middlesbrough pensioner caged for a £40,000 benefits fraud can have “no complaints” about his tough sentence, senior judges have ruled.

Edward Blackburn was jailed for 12 months at Teesside Crown Court in April after he admitted fraud by failing to disclose a change in circumstance.

The 65-year-old claimed various benefits without disclosing that his wife had secured work, London’s Appeal Court heard.

“As a result, £40,000 in benefits was wrongly paid out,” said Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, who was sitting with Lady Justice Sharp and Mrs Justice Laing. “Blackburn misled the authorities by not telling them that his partner had got work. The fraud lasted for four years, from 2010 to 2014, and the amount involved was very considerable.”

Blackburn’s crime was made all the worse by the fact that he had been warned about a previous benefits scam some years earlier for which he “managed to escape prosecution”.

“That was a shot across his bows and a clear warning from the authorities,” said the judge, who added: “Unfortunately he chose to ignore that”.

“He cannot in our view complain at all about this sentence”, he concluded. “The net sentence cannot on any view be regarded as manifestly excessive. The appeal is dismissed.”

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