A Norwich man who wrongly claimed more than £20,000 in benefit has been given a four month suspended prison sentence.

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Terence Block, 59, of Earlham Green Lane, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced for 11 benefit fraud offences.

These included 10 counts of making a false representation to obtain benefit and one count of failing to notify a change of circumstances - and they involved incapacity benefit, and housing and council tax benefit.

The court was told the total amount of money involved was just over £20,000.

Yvonne Blake, prosecuting, told the court the offences had begun in 2007. She said Block had claimed incapacity benefit while working. She also said that he had a number of undeclared bank accounts and that money seemed to move from one to another every six months or so. She said Block had said he did not have any property when he actually had a bungalow and that his mother had lived there as a tenant.

Andrew Oliver, defending, said Block was “something of a Walter Mitty character” who had some delusions in terms of his position and at times simply stuck his head in the sand. He said the property Block owns had been in the family for 40 years and had been in different people’s names during that time. He said Block had bought the bungalow in 2003 with the assistance of a very large mortgage so that his mother could continue to live there, and that he had always operated on the basis that it was his mother’s property.

He said Block had mountains of debt problems and the property was now up for sale, and he added that Block, who had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, intended to pay the benefit money back.

Block was sentenced to a total of four months in prison suspended for a period of 12 months, and he was also ordered to comply with a curfew.

The matter of an order to ensure some of the proceeds of the property sale would go towards paying some of the benefit money back was adjourned.

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