A digger driver who claimed benefits while working for nearly five years has been given a suspended sentence.

William Michael Corrin was working for construction companies during that time but failed to declare it.

This resulted in him being paid £31,174 he wasn’t entitled to between May 2017 and March 2022.

Deputy High Bailiff Rachael Braidwood sentenced the 56-year-old Douglas man to 22 weeks’ custody, suspended for two years.

We previously reported that Corrin, who lives at Derby Road, was claiming incapacity benefit due to ill health, as well as income support benefit, at various times during the period.

However, Corrin failed to inform the Department of Health and Social Care when his circumstances had changed and he had started working again.

Prosecuting advocate Peter Connick told the court that, during the period, Corrin had worked at R Cain Plant Hire as a digger driver, Hartford Homes as a labourer, Paul Carey and Sons as a construction worker, and Island Drainage Groundwork as a groundworker.

The prosecutor said that information had been received in September 2022 that Corrin was doing undeclared paid work.

He was invited for an interview by the Department of Health and Social Care in January 2023 to discuss this, but called the day before and cancelled the interview, saying his ‘head wasn’t in the right place’.

More attempts were made to interview Corrin but they were unsuccessful.

The undeclared work resulted in him being overpaid £16,985 in incapacity benefit and £14,189 in income support to which he was not entitled.

Mr Connick said that no repayments had been made to the department so far.

The court heard that Corrin’s only previous conviction for dishonesty was at Scarborough magistrates court in 2002, for handling stolen goods.

Defence advocate David Reynolds asked for credit to be given for his client’s guilty pleas and reiterated that the benefits claim was not fraudulent from the outset.

Mr Reynolds said that Corrin had always been a digger driver but had suffered serious illness in 2016 which limited the work he could do.

The advocate said that this was one of the reasons he had worked for different companies as his illness had caused him difficulties.

Mr Reynolds said that Corrin also had alcohol issues but regarded himself as a functioning alcoholic. He also had mental health issues.

‘When he made the initial benefit claims he wasn’t working,’ said the advocate. ‘But he allowed the claims to continue when he started work.

‘He was concerned if he came off benefits he would have difficulties paying rent and other expenses.

‘He accepts he became accustomed to living on the money provided to him.’

Mr Reynolds went on to refer to a probation report which said that Corrin had accepted responsibility.

Deputy High Bailiff Ms Braidwood told the defendant: ‘The period of offending is a significant aggravating factor, almost five years.

‘From the amount you were earning from legitimate work it is quite clear you didn’t need the money from the benefits, but you’d quite simply become accustomed to receiving it.’

Ms Braidwood said that the benefit overpayment could still be claimed back via a civil court.

Corrin was also ordered to pay £125 prosecution costs at a rate of £10 per week.