Fraudster spared jail over £30k claim fiddle

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A WIGAN man who cheated the benefits system out of £33,443 has been given a prison sentence.

However, a judge suspended the four-month term on Peter Maher for 12 months and ordered him to carry out 80 hours’ unpaid work.

Judge Timothy Smith also imposed a month-long electronically monitored curfew restricting him to his home in Brookfield Road, Up Holland between 10pm and 6am.

Maher, 57, had been convicted of two offences of failing to notify a change in circumstances by a Liverpool Crown Court jury after a trial last month.

The court heard that the offences, involving income support and council tax benefit, occurred between September 2006 and June last year.

After he and his wife separated in 2004 he continued to live in the matrimonial home which was then in Mill Lane, Bolton.

But in 2006 they began cohabiting again and she continued to work and he continued to claim benefits.

Sentencing him the judge said: “It is quite clear this is simply stealing from the public purse.

“It is often seen as something people can get away with but benefits are there for good reason for people who need them.”

He said that Maher’s claim had initially been legitimate and he was of impeccable character and had brought shame on himself and his family.

He is also the primary carer for his 85-year-old father.