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Rochford benefits cheat ordered to repay £12k of handouts
12:00pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
A BENEFIT cheat from Rochford was ordered to pay back more than £12,000 he falsley claimed while having £32,000 in savings in the bank.
John Bignold, 61, of Roche Close, pleaded guilty to four counts of making false statements to claim benefit when he appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court.
Bignold claimed incapacity and income benefit, council tax and income support between February 2008 and March of this year while failing to declare he had more than £16,000 in savings already available to him.
The court heard Bignold at one point in that period held more than £32,000 in savings, in 11 different accounts.
When given the chance by the court to say some words, Bignold showed remorse for his actions, saying it was due to a difficult period in his life where he had not been thinking straight. He said after a divorce, he became a recluse.
He added: “I wasn’t eating and I was drinking too much. I made many errors of judgment. I wasn’t thinking straight. I’m embarrassed to be here today.
“Since 2008, I can’t believe where I am compared to my previous life. I realise my errors, I panicked.”
The court was told Bignold had already started paying back the council tax he owed and was beginning to reimburse income support.
Ray How, representing Rochford District Council in the court, said Bignold currently owed £3,461 in council tax benefit and £9,102 in income support.
As well as being ordered to pay back the £12,500, Bignold was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £350 costs.
Magistrates said they looked favourably upon his early guilty plea, his co-operation with the Department for Work and Pensions and the fact he had paid off a substantial amount of what he owed.
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