A SCAFFOLDER who fraudently claimed more than £46,000 worth of benefits while working offshore has been jailed for six months.

Keith Brown was said by a judge to be responsible for persistent and lengthy offences of benefit fraud over several years.

Teesside Crown Court was told the 56-year-old began legitimately claiming benefits in 2003 after suffering a brain tumour.

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However, he recovered enough to work with three different employers – during which he continued to claim benefit he was not entitled to and without alerting the authorities to his change in circumstances.

Between 2007 and last year Brown claimed £28,009 in Disability Living Allowance, £9,198 in Employment Support Allowance payments, £6,897 in housing and council tax benefit and £1,917 in incapacity benefit.

Brown, of Salisbury Street, Thornaby, Teesside, admitted four counts of benefit fraud.

Peter Wishlade, mitigating, said: “This has been an extremely salutory lesson for him. He is remorseful and accepts what he was doing is entirely wrong.”

Mr Wishlade said Brown was repaying £50 per fortnight from the fraudulent claim and tried to persuade Judge Peter Armstrong that a suspended jail sentence would be appropriate.

But Judge Armstrong said jailing him immediately for six months would be a punishment for him and a deterrent to others.

“It is the least sentence I can pass for such a substantial fraud," he added.

He told Brown: “These offences were thoroughly dishonest. You continued to claim over a lengthy period, ending up with a substantial amount of money being paid to you.”