A businessman turned up at Fort William Sheriff Court yesterday with a cheque for more than £16,000 as a final repayment on a benefits scam which netted him almost £25,000.
Previously, 72-year-old Charles Wright lodged over £6,000 with the court as a part-repayment – but Sheriff Richard Davidson ordered the property developer to sell a semi-detached house in Caol to cover the balance.
Wright admitted defrauding the Department of Works and Pensions of £24,340 by claiming in March 2008 he had only £4,000 savings,thus obtaining pension credit over the next few years.
However, the truth was he owned two other houses which he later sold for £300,000.
In March Sheriff Davidson ordered him to sell the semi at 1 Glencairn Villa,Kilmallie Road, Caol, which his lawyer, Hamish Melrose, told the court his client had given his daughter to let out.The court heard yesterday this has now been done.
The sheriff originally told Wright, who lives with his wife and daughter in Larch Cottage, Monument Park, a leafy housing development in the Argyll village of Strontian: “I am not at all happy you have been using the near £25,000 you unlawfully obtained to wheel and deal in the property market.
“The victim has been the public purse.
“The high court has said that when the benefit fraud approaches £20,000 prison should be considered as a punishment.”
Sentence was deferred to July 19 to give time for Wright’s £16,000-plus cheque to clear.