Lorry driver banked benefits cash while driving to France

Fleetwood docks

Fleetwood docks

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A man who dishonestly claimed nearly £28,000 in benefits while working has been jailed.

Victor Collinge got two successive jobs as an HGV driver – transporting goods from Fleetwood docks to France – while receiving handouts.

Judge Simon Newell, sitting at Preston Crown Court, gave him an eight week jail term, saying the case involved a very large amount of money and a short deterrent sentence was needed.

The defendant had been receiving pension credit, housing and council tax benefit.

During the time he was receiving handouts he formed a relationship with a woman in Thailand and had a child.

Collinge, 68, of Handsworth Court, North Shore, had pleaded guilty to three offences of benefit fraud.

His offence occurred over a period of two years and four months.

Sarah Griffin, prosecuting, said he had begun receiving benefits in 2006 on the grounds that he was unemployed and had no other form of income.

The offences took place between February 2009 and June 2011.

He first got a job as an HGV driver, earning an average £500 a week.

After that he got other work as a driver, with an average wage of £300.

While in the second job he was visited by someone from Jobcentre Plus, who he told he was not working.

The court also heard that back in 2010 he was given a caution for a similar matter that had involved an overpayment of £563 in benefits.

Paul Robinson, defending, said the claim had been a genuine one to start with.

Collinge had been claiming on behalf of his wife.

He said: “There appears to have been something of a misunderstanding. As far as he was concerned, she couldn’t make a claim on her own.

“The job he was doing mostly involved him transporting goods from Fleetwood docks and taking them to the Airbus factory in Toulouse.

“Most of the week he spent sleeping in the cab, or in hotel rooms and not at home.

“The claim was left to run to ensure his wife’s rent was paid.

“His wife and child are in Thailand”.

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