A hockey coach convicted of benefit fraud claimed another person looked after his finances and he had not realised he had still been receiving Employment and Support Allowance, Ballymena Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.
James Dodsworth (47), of Lindara Park in Larne, pleaded guilty to failing to declare a change of circumstances between May 2015 and August 2016, that he was working whilst obtaining Employment & Support Allowance.
He obtained £3,865 in benefits.
The court heard he had been working for the Education Authority and when interviewed by benefits officials about his fraud he said he was “naive” and didn’t know how the system worked.
The court was told Dodsworth currently works as a hockey coach and, it was claimed, that as another person did all the finances the defendant had not realised he had still been getting Employment and Support Allowance at the time of the offending.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said his client had always worked and had never been on benefits until he found himself “in between jobs”.
The lawyer said Dodsworth had failed to ‘sign off’ at the time and was “not somebody who had set out to steal off the state”.
Mr Moore said the money is currently being repaid by the defendant who works as a hockey coach at a “local school”.
The defendant was ordered to pay back the money and given a two year conditional discharge.