A photographer who claimed he was too ill to work has been jailed for claiming more than £80,000 in benefits while working for local newspapers.
Steven Monk, 50, claimed incapacity benefit for nine years while working for local papers in Somerset and taking wedding pictures.
He was jailed last week for eight months at Exeter Crown Court after admitting three offences of deception relating to claims for £84,347.81, mostly in incapacity benefit, but also for council tax and housing benefit.
The court was told that Monk, of Windmill Hill, Ashill, had suffered a genuine injury in 1994 and started claiming benefits legitimately but carried on after he recovered and returned to work.
He repeatedly signed forms saying he was still unfit for employment and that his partner was also not working, even though she had a succession of jobs, including one with Somerset County Council.
Sean Brunton, prosecuting, said the case came to light after an investigation which showed Monk was claiming incapacity benefit while earning £17,500 a year working for local newspapers in Somerset.
Patrick Mason, defending, said Monk was now being treated for depression because of the extreme remorse he felt for his behaviour.
He said: “He is riddled with guilt and shame and with the embarrassment he has brought to his family. He was only trying to make ends meet and not indulging in a luxurious lifestyle. It is not as if he had created any fictitious children or anything like that.
“He is a self-employed photographer of considerable talent who tells me he wants to go and work in Spain as a wedding photographer, where there is apparently great demand.”