Magherafelt man who falsely claimed almost £4k in benefits spared jail

Court hammer
Court hammer

A Magherafelt man who falsely claimed benefits totalling £3,729 has been given a suspended sentence.

Keiran McEldowney, from Station Road, appeared before Magherafelt Magistrates Court on three charges of making a false declaration to obtain benefits and one count of failing to declare a change of circumstances.

Mr McEldowney is unable to work because of blood clots in his legs - Defence counsel

The prosecution outlined how the 53-year-old had dishonestly claimed Housing Benefit worth £1733.43 and Job Seekers Allowance of £1,996.26 between 2010 and 2011.

The court heard how McEldowney has been paying £18.50 a week to Housing Benefit and £21.90 per fortnight of Job Seekers Allowance, in an effort to refund the departments.

Hitting out at the repayment amounts Judge Bernie Kelly questioned the prosecution on how long it would take the defendant to pay the whole sum back, adding: “I think it’s about time the department actually started to get money back on these cases.”

The defence told the court his client was “unable to work because of blood clots in his legs”, but on benefits of just £100 per week, had paid back over £500.

Pleading for leniency, counsel went on to say McEldowney had admitted to the charges during police interview.

Addressing him, Judge Kelly said: “There are no community options open to the court.”

Sentencing him to two months imprisonment, which she suspended for two years, she told McEldowney: “If you commit an offence of dishonesty in the next two years, you will serve this sentence.”