Thorpe End man who falsely claimed more than £36,000 in benefits given curfew over festive period.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture Adrian Judd. - Credit: Archant

A man who made false benefit claims of £36,000 has been given a suspended jail term and a curfew meaning he will have to miss nights out over the festive period.

Michael Sexton, 62, claimed benefits and housing allowance amounting to £36,000 but failed to declare he had more then £52,000 in savings in his bank account at the time, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Juliet Donovan, prosecuting, said the false claims, which went on for more than four years, arose after he was left money for his children by his ex-wife who died and was also left money from his late father but failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions or Broadland District Council about his savings.

She said Sexton said he had overlooked declaring the cash as he saw it as his children's inheritance and did not think of the cash as his.

Sexton of St David's Drive, Thorpe End, admitted failing to notify about a change in circumstances and was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years and a 10 week curfew, under which he has to stay indoors between 5pm to 5am each day.

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Judge David Goodin told Sexton, who has health problems, that although he might not go out much, the curfew would act as an extra punishment with the festive season approaching.

'It will mean you won't be able to go out.'

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He also adjourned a confiscation hearing to claw back some of the cash to January 2.

He told him: 'Thirty-six thousand pounds of taxpayers' money is a lot of money. It is a most serious offence.'

He said the false claims had gone on for about four and half years but gave him credit for his guilty plea and also that he was of previous good character.

David Stewart, for Sexton, said he had been naive as he had just accepted that the money was the inheritance for the children and it had not been put formally in a will.

Mr Stewart said Sexton made a mistake in not declaring it to authorities and said: 'He accepts he made a grave mistake.'

He said Sexton had a number of health problems and a suspended sentence would mean he had a prison sentence hanging over him.

He said Sexton had since passed the cash on to his children in line with the verbal agreement with his ex-wife.

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