Cobridge benefit cheat Jovan Katic had £21k in the bank
A HUSBAND who stopped work to care for his sick wife failed to mention he had £21,000 in the bank when he applied for benefits.
Jovan Katic then went on to inherit £56,000 from his uncle – which he also did not declare to the authorities.
Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard the 54-year-old had worked all his life until 2006, when his wife's degenerative illness became so bad he had to become her full-time carer.
He applied for benefits when he gave up work, but did not tell the Department of Work and Pensions he had £21,000 savings.
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Anyone with more than £16,000 is not entitled to claim.
Steve Knowles, prosecuting, said: "He made a claim for income support for himself and his family on October 31, 2006.
"From information received the Department of Work and Pensions found that Mr Katic may have undeclared capital, and he was asked to attend an interview in February last year.
"He confirmed the details he had given on the form with regard to capital were incorrect."
The court heard Katic, of Elm Street, Cobridge, had not declared his savings because he knew they would soon be spent after he stopped work.
He did later become entitled to the benefits he was being paid, but a surprise inheritance put him over the limit again.
Andrew Turnock, representing Katic, said: "He had finished work due to the illness of his wife.
"She has been ill since she was 24, and she is now 45.
"It was a progressive illness which got to the point where he had to become her full-time carer. It's not the case that he has claimed for a full six-year period when he was not entitled.
"There have been three lengthy periods where his capital was below the limit and he was entitled to claim.
"The £21,000 sum reduced and he became entitled to claim legitimately.
"He then received £56,000 inheritance that wasn't expected at all.
"He did not get on with his uncle but he had not made a will and Mr Katic was the only surviving relative."
The court heard Katic used the money for a new car and home improvements that would assist with his wife's limited mobility.
When most of his inheritance had been spent, he again became entitled to the benefits he was already claiming.
Mr Turnock told the magistrates: "He has £1,000 capital at the moment.
"I hope you have some sympathy that he had to finish work and become a benefit claimant solely because of his wife's illness."
Katic pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the Department of Works and Pensions to obtain benefit totalling £8,623.58.
The sum he owes is already being deducted from his benefits.
Magistrates handed Katic a community order with 12 months supervision.
He must also complete the benefit fraud structured intervention programme and pay £100 court costs.