A 76-YEAR-OLD benefit cheat who claimed more than £18,000 he was not entitled to has avoided jail.

Magistrates sentenced Joseph Stone, of Queensway, St Neots, to 80 hours of unpaid work for fraudulently claiming benefits totalling £18,427 over a five-year period.

He had claimed benefits based on his state pension since 2002, but started full-time work in 2005 and worked for a variety of employers over the next five years, hiding the work from Huntingdonshire District Council and the DWP.

Stone was given a 12-month community order and ordered to pay costs of £440 when he appeared at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (December 13).

Magistrates gave him credit for his guilty plea, co-operation and repayment of the money.

On the same day, Lee Zander, 38, of Charles Close, Ramsey, was sentenced after pleading guilty to four charges of benefit fraud between 2009 and 2010.

Zander had claimed benefit in 2008 while in receipt of incapacity benefit and from 2009 based on job seeker’s allowance, but failed to report to the authorities that he had worked through a recruitment agency from July 2009 until October 2010.

He had been overpaid £3,142, and has since made arrangements to repay it.

He received a 24-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £240.