A dyslexic criminologist branded a benefit fraud after accidentally claiming thousands in loans due to a paperwork error has been declared an innocent man.
Adam McLean, 38, of Pleasant Street, North Shore, landed in court in August after it was alleged he illegally claimed £9,469 in income support – because he ticked the wrong box on a student loan application seven years ago.
He was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for a year and ordered to pay £620 costs with a £115 victim surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.
Now the Youth Offending Team worker has had his conviction overturned at Preston Crown Court following an appeal.
He said: “I feel I have been treated very unfairly. It has caused me problems in every aspect of my life, both professional and personal.
“I have had friends disown me over this. It has made life very difficult for me.”
The allegations against Mr McLean dated back to 2010, when he was studying criminology at the University of Central Lancashire.
However, he was only made aware of his mistake earlier this year after attending a meeting at the Jobcentre.
He said: “I was terrified. I was put in the worst possible situation you could imagine. I have never been in trouble in my life, and I found myself in court.
“I spiralled into such a depression that I didn’t want to appeal. I fell into a very dark hole.”
He added that it was the cruel remarks he received that caused him to appeal his sentence.
He said: “Now my conviction has been quashed I can go back to being an ordinary criminologist.”