A SURVEYOR who kept more than £6,000 in wrongful Universal Credit benefits has been punished by the courts.

Liam Barnett admitted charges contrary to the Theft Act 1968 in respect of benefit payments made into his bank account.

The 32-year-old was charged with five counts of retaining a wrongful credit.

He indicated guilty pleas to all charges with his sentencing adjourned to a recent hearing at Warrington Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard how the charged related to claims made in relation to the defendant having a dependant to look after, as well as rent help.

An investigation however revealed that he was in fact living alone in Warrington.

The total amount of wrongful credit kept was £6,333, between February 2019 and June 2021.

He admitted keeping and dishonestly failing to take reasonable steps to cancel the credit, knowing he had obtained it wrongfully on five occasions.

In mitigation, the court heard of Barnett’s drug addition at the time, with a suggestion of a coercion of him by criminals into committing the offences.

Magistrates remarked that the severity of his offending was serious enough to merit a community penalty, with his guilty pleas taken into account.

Barnett, of Rock Road in Latchford, was sentenced to a 12-month community order, including five rehabilitation activity requirement days and 150 hours of unpaid work.

In addition, he was ordered to pay a statutory surcharge to fund victim services of £114 and costs to the Crown Prosecution Service of £120.

The defendant is expected to be the subject of civil court proceedings by the Department of Work and Pensioners to recoup the lost money.