A MAN got away with a benefits scam for more than two and a half years by claiming his mother and stepfather were his landlady and landlord, a court heard yesterday.

Craig Steele defrauded Harrogate Borough Council out of housing benefit totalling £3,096.52 between April 1994 and December 1996, Caroline Midgley, prosecuting, told the town's magistrates.

She said Steele, 32, had made claims on two separate properties in Heathfield Drive, Knaresborough, failing to declare he was living with his mother and stepfather.

He told investigators he had regarded them as his landlord and landlady because he paid them board.

Mrs Midgley said the scam had come to light when Steele's mother had made a benefits claim of her own for a property in High Street, Knaresborough and identified Steele as her son.

When Steele, of High Street, Knaresborough, admitted deception court chairman Jaki Moorhouse told him probation reports were needed covering all sentencing options including prison.

She adjourned the hearing until April 1 and bailed Steele in the meantime.