Benefits cheat claimed £56,000

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A benefits cheat who illegally claimed more than £56,000 despite owning his own air conditioning firm has been jailed.

Robert Kirk, 61, was given a 12-month prison sentence after a court heard he carried out the deception over a period of at least eight years.

The Department of Work and Pensions uncovered Kirk’s scam after receiving a tip-off and visiting his home in Birstall.

Officers went to the property and saw a 4x4 vehicle parked outside with an advertising sign on it for R Kirk Air Conditioning.

He was arrested in June 2013 and his home was searched.

A total of 22 books were found which contained around 1,100 invoices for work he had carried out dating back to 2004.

Imran Khan, prosecuting, said Kirk initially made legitimate claims for income support in 1992 on the grounds that he was a lone parent and had two children.

He later made claims for incapacity benefit after declaring that he was unfit to work.

Kirk failed to notify of an improvement in his condition and carried out work for himself while making the claims for income support, council tax and disability living allowance.

Kirk, of Monk Ings Avenue, Birstall, pleaded guilty to fraud and three offences of failing to notify a change in circumstances to obtain benefit.

The court heard that, during the course of the offending, Kirk was prosecuted for a similar benefit scam totalling £18,000.

Michael Sisson-Pell, prosecuting, said Kirk had been a qualified engineer for 40 years but had been diagnosed with chronic liver disease which had made him unfit to work at times.

Judge James Spencer, QC, He said: “It seems to me that there are no grounds at all to suspend the sentence.”