A MAN made benefit claims over eight years, despite having £70,000-worth of savings, a court heard.

But as 66-year-old Kenneth Walker has repaid the overpaid amount, he was today (Monday February 17) spared an immediate prison sentence.

Durham Crown Court heard he claimed income support for two years, then pension credits for six years, from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

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He also claimed local authority assistance, by way of Council Tax and housing benefit.

Vince Ward, prosecuting, said Walker failed to declare capital of more than £16,000, the threshold for receiving benefits, from his initial claim.

By the time it came to light, last April, the amount overpaid was £44,209.90.

Mr Ward said the DWP confirmed its element of the overpayment, more than £30,000, has been repaid.

Walker, of Rose Avenue, South Moor, Stanley, admitted three counts of making fraudulent claim for benefit.

Andrew Finlay, mitigating, told the court Walker had £70,000-worth of savings.

He said: “He’s been frank about having a deep-rooted fear of not having any money.”

But, Judge Paul Watson QC, said: “It could be considered almost miserly.”

He told Watson he could “step back” from imposing an immediate prison sentence due to his admissions and repayment.

He sentenced Walker to ten months in prison, suspended for a year.