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Nwicker60
02-Mar-12, 17:44
Court hears claimant didn't disclose his 50,000 inheritance

A THURSO man was jailed for four months today for claiming benefit he wasn’t entitled to.
Ernest Watt (39)admitted having failed to advise the Department of Work and Pensions and Highland Council of a change in his circumstances...he had been left a legacy of 50,000 in his father’s estate.
Wick Sheriff Court heard that Watt, of Ormlie Road, Thurso, was overpaid to the tune of 12,300 between October 1, 2009 and May 30, 2011 from Job Centre Plus.
Senior fiscal depute, David Barclay said that claimants were duty bound to tell the authorities about any savings they had over 16,000 but the accused had not informed them of his inheritance.
He had since had his benefit reduced, to pay back the excess benefit he had received.
Solicitor Neil Wilson told the court that, according to a background report, Watt appeared to be having some difficulty in appreciating that what he had done was wrong.
Mr Wilson continued: “I have done my best to explain it to him. He received a substantial sum from his father’s estate and should have told the authorities about it. The requirement is made plain in the various forms he would have received as a claimant. The accused thinks benefit is something he is entitled to whatever his personal circumstances.”
Sheriff Andrew Berry who noted that Watt had a history of offending from the age of 16 told him: “It seems to me to be truly incredible that you did not understand that you had to tell the appropriate authorities that you had come into possession of 50,000 and you didn’t appear to grasp that it might have affected you benefit you received.”
The sheriff who observed from the report that Watt had spend the money on such things as football and horse racing added: “It seems to me that in order that you and others will understand the gravity of the matter, the sentence has to be a custodial one.”