A SECURITY guard who claimed more than £28,000 in benefits while still working has escaped jail.
John Donnelly received a 40-week suspended prison sentence when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
Donnelly of Lombardy Court, Ossett, was found guilty of two counts of benefit fraud at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court last month.
The court heard the 57-year-old had failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that he had been working full-time since 2002 and continued to claim incapacity benefit.
Donnelly, who suffers from arthritis and leg problems, had pocketed £28,189 by the time he was found out in 2009.
Sentencing, judge Scott Wolstenholme said: “The amounts claimed aren’t great week by week, but it went on for a long time and the amount is substantial at more than £28,000.
“The claims received mean a prison sentence has to be passed, but I will suspend it due to your previous good character and the unlikeliness of you offending again.”
Donnelly was sentenced for 20 weeks for both charges, to run consecutively, but suspended for a year.
He was also ordered to pay £600 in costs and told to complete 100 hours unpaid work in the community.
Prosecutor Paul Reid told the court Donnelly had failed to mention his job on many benefit forms and had even told a doctor in 2008 that he had not worked for 11 years, although he had been in employment for five years.
Peter Bryne, mitigating, said Donnelly was still working as a security guard, which involved sitting behind a desk monitoring CCTV, so he could pay back the money owed.
He said his employers were aware of the case, but were happy for him to continue working.
He added that Donnelly was entitled to the benefits when he first applied for them, but he had not informed the DWP of his change in circumstances.
Donnelly is still entitled to disability working allowance.