A BONHILL man who defrauded the taxpayer out of more than eight thousand pounds in benefits has been given the legal equivalent of a slap on the wrist for the crime.

Mark Casey obtained the cash by failing to tell the DWP and West Dunbartonshire Council of a change in circumstances which would have affected his entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), housing benefit, council tax benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

The 46-year-old made false claims for ESA, council tax and housing benefit cash between January 2011 and May 2012, and for JSA between August and October of 2012.

Ladyton resident Casey originally appeared for sentencing at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in March 2018 after admitting three charges under the Social Security Administration Act of 1992.

He pleaded guilty to obtaining £3,888.65 in ESA, £4,111.38 in housing benefit and council tax benefit, and £557.86 in JSA, to which he was not entitled, by “knowingly failing to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances which you knew affected your entitlement to benefit or other payment of advantage”.

Sentence on that occasion was deferred for the court to obtain further information about Casey’s health, to monitor repayments of the money, and for him to be of good behaviour.

At the same court on Friday, September 20, Casey’s solicitor said his client had repaid between two and three thousand pounds of the cash through at-source deductions from his benefits by the DWP and the council.

Scott Adair said: “He has been of good behaviour. There continue to be fortnightly repayments – he can’t stop making the payments, because they are being deducted at source.

“He is unlikely to be in employment because of his health issues, and any financial penalty would reduce his income even further.”

Mr Adair told Sheriff John Hamilton: “It’s now more than two years since the case first started in court, and I would submit to your Lordship that now may be a time to draw a line under this matter.”

Casey had originally been charged with falsely obtaining much larger sums – £6,177.20 in ESA and £10,522 in housing and council tax benefits – but his pleas of guilty to the reduced amounts were accepted by the Crown.

Sheriff Hamilton told Casey: “Given your health issues, and all the circumstances, my hands are somewhat tied.

“Had you been of better health, the punishment would have been more severe.

“But in the circumstances you will simply be admonished and dismissed.”