Benefit thief forgot he had £7,000

A THIEF who stole more than £7,000 in benefits, claimed he had forgotten the money was in his bank account, a court heard. And when the Department of Works and Pensions demanded the £7469.

A THIEF who stole more than £7,000 in benefits, claimed he had forgotten the money was in his bank account, a court heard.

And when the Department of Works and Pensions demanded the £7469.48 back, Richard Pepper gave the money to a friend as a gift so that it could not be claimed back.

Pepper, 53, of Lavender Hill, Ipswich was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of making false representations to the Department of Works and Pensions in obtaining the money.

Judge David Goodwin said: “The offences that have been committed are serious ones.

“But, he has been a man of good character for half a century or more.”

Pepper, who is unemployed and living with his mother, was spared jail but ordered to pay back the money by way of compensation plus £1000 in costs.

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He will also have to complete 150 hours of community service and is subject to an immediate 12 week curfew which will prevent him from leaving his home between 8pm and 6am.

Pepper will be electronically tagged to make sure he doesn't break his curfew but is allowed out until 9.30pm for two days of it to attend health and safety meetings with probabtion.

Justice Goodwin said: “A breach in your curfew would result in a return to court and a possible sentence.

“You could be fined, given more hours or sentenced to time in prison if your community service is not done.”

The £7469.48 plus £1000 costs will be subject to means testing at a fines court.