A WORDSLEY man who illegally pocketed more than £28,000 in benefits has been ordered by a judge to carry out 200 hours unpaid work in the community.
Wayne Cooper, aged 46, started claiming benefits after informing the Department of Work and Pensions he was a widower with two dependent children.
But Cooper failed to notify the department that he had remarried and he continued to claim the money over a five year period, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
Cooper, who falsely claimed a total of £28,339, later told investigators his life at the time had been "chaotic" and he thought he had told the authorities about his new wife.
"You were the victim of domestic tragedy and you were entitled to allowances," Judge Nicholas Webb told Cooper, of Chapel Street.
"But when you remarried you continued to receive these benefits.
"The courts and the public get very concerned about losses to the revenue from incorrect claims for benefits. You were at the very least highly negligible."
The judge said it was clear Cooper was earning good wages, in the region of around £1,000 a week, and he now had to take steps to repay back to the department the money he had falsely claimed.
He said he was currently paying the authorities around £100 a month but stressed the amount meant it would take around 23 years for him to clear the debt.
Cooper, a man of previous good character, admitted failing to notify the department of a change in his circumstances and he will now have to face another hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Simon Hanns, defending, told the court that Cooper was a hard working man but at the time he was dealing with a "massive" number of debts.