A 63-YEAR-old Runcorn man has been prosecuted for falsely claiming almost £12,000 of benefits because he failed to tell the authorities he had a live-in lover.
Harold Thorley, of Sextant Close, Murdishaw, appeared at Halton Magistrates Court, where he was prosecuted for failing to declare that his girlfriend, Barbara Fielding, had moved into his home.
He also made a false statement on benefit claim forms, causing him to receive thousands more than he was entitled to in housing and Council Tax benefit.
When interviewed under caution in May of this year, Thorley admitted Mrs Fielding had moved into the property in May 1993 and had lived with him as his partner since August 2002.
He had completed two benefit forms, in June 2003 and September 2005, without disclosing her presence.
As a result of these false statements, he was overpaid housing benefit and Council Tax benefit totalling £11,935.57 for the period of August 10, 2002, to March 26, 2006.
Thorley pleaded guilty. In mitigation, his solicitor said at the age of 63, this was the first time he had been involved with the courts.
Thorley is in ill-health and his of-fence was one of omission rather than fraud.
He had readily made some repayments of the overpayment and he said he readily accepted both his liability and his guilt.
Taking into account his good behaviour and accepting that the offence was an act of omission rather than one of dishonesty, magistrates imposed a two-year conditional discharge and ordered Mr Thorley to pay the council's costs of £100.