Lancashire

Fake agoraphobic illegally claimed £70,000 in benefits

A window cleaner from Lancashire falsely stated he had agoraphobia so he could illegally claim more than £70,000 in benefits, a court has heard.

John Booth, 63, said he was unfit to work over a 14-year period due to various illnesses but was actually doing his rounds in Cheshire.

Booth, of Chorley, admitted 17 counts of false accounting at a previous hearing at Preston Crown Court.

He was given a 28-week jail term, suspended for two years.

'Gross distortion'

He began his scam in April 1994 after previously claiming invalidity benefit for 12 years because of depression, the court heard.

When he began work again on his cleaning business he failed to notify the authorities of his change in circumstances.

He then went on to falsely claim a string of unemployment benefits despite continuing to clean windows in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Stockport and Poynton on a regular basis, the court heard.

Frank Nance, prosecuting, said: "He was asked to set out his reasons for incapacity and he said he had agoraphobic anxiety and a fear of being in public places and around people, which simply was a gross distortion of the truth."

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