A benefit cheat who illegally claimed tens of thousands of pounds from Babergh District Council has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Kaj Jensen, 75, of Whatfield Hall, Whatfield, near Hadleigh, was paid almost £40,000 in housing-related benefits since 2007.
The businessman, who was earlier this month convicted of fraud by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court following a trial, had claimed that he was unaware that he had done anything wrong.
The jury heard that while claiming housing and council tax benefit and failing to notify the council of a change in his circumstances, Jensen had travelled extensively abroad, including to China, Africa and the Far East over a four-year period.
Prosecutor Lynne Shirley said that Jensen shopped at upmarket stores, and spent thousands of pounds in hotels, restaurants and garden centres.
In one year, he ran up a £999 phone bill and also spent hundreds of pounds with wine suppliers.
During the trial, the court heard that Jensen had failed to disclose when claiming benefits that he was a director of a number of companies, had a private pension and that his wife received a Danish pension. Two bank accounts were also not disclosed.
In total, his false claims resulted in Jensen being overpaid £28,383 in housing benefit and £11,332 in council tax benefit, said Miss Shirley.
Jensen, who represented himself during the trial, said while giving evidence that he had found it difficult to understand the amount of benefit he was being paid and had felt unable to question it.
He claimed that the foreign travel referred to by the prosecution had included trips paid for by his children – one to assist police in Ghana after he became the victim of a fraud, and others to Denmark with the aim of setting up a business.
On Monday, Jensen was sentenced by Judge David Goodin to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.
In passing his sentence, Judge Goodin said the offending had crossed the custody threshold.
Taking into account Jensen’s lack of previous convictions and his age, however, Judge Goodin said it was possible to suspended the prison term.
In addition, Jensen will be subject to a curfew order – running between 8pm and 6am – at his home address for the next 27 weeks.