Wearside benefit cheat spared jail

A benefit cheat who claimed over £80,000 which he was not entitled to hasbeen spared jail.

Michael Johnston of Oak Avenue in Houghton-le-Spring did not tell the authorities that his wife, who was also his carer, had gone back to employment during a 14 year period between 1999 and 2013.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 59-year-old claimed benefits for him andhis wife including income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit,totalling £82,263.95.

Johnston, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and has cystson both kidneys, pleaded guilty at Magistrates Court to benefit fraud.

Recorder Wheeler gave him full credit for his early guilty plea and alsotook into consideration the defendant's health concerns:

A large amount of money has been obtained by you from benefits over a long period of time.

Judge Wheeler

Johnston was sentenced to a 12 month suspended prison sentence.