A BENEFITS cheat took thousands of pounds he was not entitled to.

Craig Alan Pettifer was said to have taken £7,262 in the universal credit benefit, saying he was unemployed when in fact he had undertaken small amounts of work.

The 35-year-old, of Egerton Court in Barrow, appeared at South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court.

He pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.

Prosecutor Diane Jackson said the defendant first applied for the benefit in January 2016, saying he was unemployed and single and later attended the job centre.

Pettifer, a roofer by trade, was said to have gained some work with a friend and not disclosed his employment status to authorities.

He was said to have admitted his wrongdoing, saying: “I accept I was wrong to do it and had been working.”

The prosecutor said the defendant had said he was surviving on ‘borrowed time’ and had a number of ‘personal issues’.

Representing Pettifer, Maureen Fawcett said he had previously had a brain tumour and was told not to work by his doctor.

Mrs Fawcett added: “He signed off from benefits and signed on.

“He got work on and off for a couple of days.

“He was not fraudulent from the outset.

“He accepts that he was wrong and he’s remorseful.”

The court was told the defendant had begun to pay back the money he had falsely claimed.

For the offence, he was sentenced to a curfew, forcing him to stay at home between 8pm and 6am for the next nine weeks.

He was told to pay an £85 victim surcharge and £85 costs in bringing the case to court.

Sentencing him to the community order, district judge Gerald Chalk said: “This is a serious matter because we are talking about public money.”