A man who won £1.9m on the National Lottery but then failed to declare his huge windfall when he applied for pension credit has been jailed for 16 months.
Patrick Ronan, who moved to an £865,000 house in Frodsham after his Lotto win, conned taxpayers out of nearly £80,000 in pension credit after his 'false claim'.
The judge, Recorder Vincent Fraser QC, said that while applying for the means tested benefit 72-year-old Ronan had told the benefits agency that he only had savings of £230 and had no other means of financial support.
He said: “That claim was false. You had been the lucky recipient of a National Lottery win in the sum of £1.9m. Plainly you were not entitled to any benefit and you would have known that.
“Give the astonishing windfall you were lucky enough to receive, your claim for benefit was particularly greedy and mean spirited.”
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Ronan, of Beverley Close, Southport, has been suffering from cancer for a decade and has had to have part of his jaw removed, the Liverpool Echo reports.
He is fed through a tube, takes various medications and receives regular visits from a nurse.
The judge said that he took into account his “unfortunate” ill health and his age, meaning that imprisonment will be particularly onerous for him but the offence was so serious only an immediate custodial sentence could be imposed.
After applying for the benefits Ronan, who has previous convictions stretching back to 1957 including benefit fraud and dishonesty, told the authorities that he had moved from a housing association home in Fazakerley, Liverpool, to Frodsham.
The judge said: “But you did not declare that the home you had purchased cost £865,000 out of the lottery winnings. You maintained this false claim for over 11 years and it reached £79,803.
“It only came to light when you were stopped at Manchester Airport in possession of £4,000 cash. This led to an investigation culminating in an interview in April last year.
“During the course of that interview you volunteered winning the money on the lottery shortly before making the pension credit claim but denied acting dishonestly maintaining you thought that personal savings were your business and there was no need for them to be declared,”
Ronan, who pocketed the cash between March 2005, and February 21 last year, has now spent all the winnings but the court heard that after selling his Frodsham home for £600,000 in 2014 he had down-sized to his current £200,000 home in Southport - leaving him with £400,000 - and that will be sold to pay back taxpayers.
Steven Swift, prosecuting, said that the benefit claim by Ronan, who pleaded guilty to making a dishonest representation to obtain benefit, had been fraudulent from the outset.
He was awarded pension credits after claiming he only had £230 savings and no means of financial support despite having had the lottery win shortly before.
When he was interviewed after being stopped at Manchester Airport he said his winnings had gone on large gifts to others and investments in a tractor company operating out of Egypt.
His “host” of previous convictions included producing £20,000 worth of cannabis at his farmhouse home in Frodsham, an operation he claimed was run by others.
Paul Treble, defending, said that Ronan had admitted his guilt and had brought a large bag with him containing his various medications and “he will need specialist treatment in prison.”
He said that although he has no money left his Southport home will be sold to repay the amount he has obtained by fraud.
He added: “He regrets his behaviour and is remorseful. He has a long record of dishonesty and acted dishonestly again, maybe due to a lack of thinking about what he was doing.
“He seems to have been very generous with his money, lending to associates to set up a business.”