A benefit cheat, who ripped-off taxpayers to fund his children's inheritance with £153,000 he saved up, has received a suspended prison sentence.
Builder Jeffrey Hearn, 55, received £87,000 in Employment and Support allowance and Housing and Council Tax benefit for six years and two months.
He told Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court he did not even want a lawyer to defend him because he wants to keep as much of the money he defrauded for himself.
“The money I saved was for my children. I don’t want to pay two thousand pounds to a solicitor,” he said from the dock.
However, the court ordered a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation, which means the children may never see a penny of the money.
Hearn, of Cromwell Place, Station Road, Redhill pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false statement in a benefits application on June 19, 2009 to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
He also pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false statement in a housing benefit application to the London Borough of Merton on July 1, 2009.
Hearn also admitted dishonestly making a false statement in an Employment & Support Allowance application to the DWP on August 6.
All three charges relate to him lying about the amount of savings he had at the time.
“This was fraudulent from the outset,” said prosecutor Francesca Levett.
Hearn, who claims to have a £300 per week cannabis habit told the court he repaid Merton Council £21,000 and has been making £50 payments to the DWP for 18 months.
“I did not set out on purpose to do this,” he told the court. “I was in a bad place at the time, very depressed.
“I’m doing my best to resolve it by paying back what I can.”
Judge Andrew Campbell sentenced Hearn to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months and ordered him to complete a twenty-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
“I will give you full credit for pleading guilty,” he told Hearn. “In the circumstances I’m not going to make an order for unpaid work.”
Afterwards the judge said: “It seems a short sentence for quite a lot of money, but what am I to do?”