South Shields benefit claimant had a secret job


A SHIPYARD worker was paid more than £23,000 in handouts by failing to declare he had a job that he even kept secret from his live-in girlfriend.

Mark Dowson and his partner made a joint claim for benefits on the basis neither of them were working, which resulted in payments of Jobseeker’s Allowance along with housing and council tax relief.

But, Newcastle Crown Court heard, for more than three years, between January 2010 and April 2013, the 46-year-old had earned money from a job – which he spent on himself.

Dowson had even arranged for his wage to be paid into his son’s bank account in a bid to avoid being found out.

As a result of his dishonesty, his girlfriend was arrested and questioned but no case was brought against her after it became clear that she, too, had been duped.

Dowson, of Bonsall Court, South Shields, admitted causing his partner to make joint claims for benefit which he knew to be false.

David Combe, prosecuting, told the court: “He and his partner were interviewed under caution.

“Both essentially said the same thing, namely he had mislead her. She had no knowledge of his employment.

“He was alcohol-dependent, and he spent the money he earned on himself.

“The Crown thought it right to proceed against him alone.

“The one element of sophistication in the offending is he caused his wages to be paid into a bank account in his son’s name rather than his own name.

“The only sensible inference is that was done to avoid detection.”

Graeme Cook, defending, said Dowson has full- time work which he is using to pay back the cash and support his family.

Mr Cook added: “His partner is still his partner – she is not entitled to any form of benefit now.

“She has been punished for his wrongdoing.”

Mr Cook said Downson had been “in and out” of work during the time of the offending, and would sometimes live away.

Judge Robert Adams sentenced Dowson to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with supervision and 100 hours’ unpaid work.

The court heard Dowson would have been entitled to more than £3,000 in tax credits if he had declared his true position.