Mablethorpe man sentenced for ‘fraudulent’ benefit claims

Court
Court

A Mablethorpe man has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting he obtained almost £9,000 through illegal claims for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and housing benefit.

Lee James McGrath, 45, of George Street, admitted the two separate offences when he appeared at Boston Magistrates’ Court on October 4.

The court heard that McGrath made the claim at Wolverhampton in February 2014 and failed to declare that he held capital in excess of the permitted sum of £16,000.

Nick Todd, prosecuting, said McGrath had more than £30,000 in various accounts in 2013 and in 2014 still had £24,000, adding that he had been repaying the overpayment of £8,861 regularly.

Mitigating, Andrea Wilkes said that at the time McGrath had made the claims he should have disclosed that he had inherited the money from his grandmother, who had left him cash and a house, which was sold.

She said he worked for a charity which assisted refugees in Calais and had also worked with the homeless and had used a lot of the money for those purposes, so he had not had a lavish lifestyle.

Ms Wilkes said McGrath used the benefits of £8,800 to live on, and had spent his inheritance on the charities he was involved with.

Probation officer Malcolm Paynter said McGrath had inherited £16,000 from his grandmother and a house worth around £90,000, while he was in prison, and much of the cash had been frittered away.

The magistrates said the claim had been ‘fraudulent from the outset’ and only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

They sentenced him to 12 weeks imprisonment on each of the two cases, but suspended them for two years.

He was also ordered to pay £200 in costs and charges.