A BENEFITS cheat who claimed more than £2,000 while still in work has appeared in court.

Martin Kemp, of Oakdene Avenue, Darlington, picked up jobseekers allowance and housing benefit and council tax benefit payments worth about £2,300 over a two-year period despite holding down jobs.

Kemp, 31, is now paying the money back at around £50 a month, and said he only claimed it due to increasing financial strains when a relationship ended.

Loading article content

Claire Brinton, prosecuting, said Kemp failed to inform the Department for Work and Pensions he had jobs between October and November in 2011, and from December 2011 until April 2012.

She said Kemp claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit from Darlington Borough Council during periods between October and November 2011, and from December 2011 until April 2012.

Marie Barker, mitigating, said Kemp, who pleaded guilty to six charges of illegally claiming benefit payments at Darlington Magistrates' Court, had been left desperate when he split up from his partner.

She said: “This was not fraudulent from the start, he was in a relationship and he and his partner had moved into an expensive property.

“They split up and he was under a great deal of financial pressure to pay the rent.

“He did not have a full-time job and was doing bits and pieces when he could, but now has a job and is paying the money back.”

Magistrates fined Kemp £140 and ordered him to pay £85 costs.