A BENEFIT cheat has appeared in court after failing to tell officials that he had £25,000 in the bank.

Bolton Magistrates’ Court heard that Trevor Matthews claimed £34,910 that he was not entitled to over a 10 year period.

The 52-year-old’s claim started out legitimately in 1998, but in January, 2000, he received £18,000 inheritance from an aunt. He did not touch that money because he was saving it for medical treatment, the court was told, and it accrued interest, bringing the total to £25,000.

Matthews, of Oswald Street, Daubhill, pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances in respect of income support and council tax benefits.

People who claim benefits have to declare any savings over £6,000, and receive a reduced rate of benefits when they have savings up to £16,000. Anyone with more than £16,000 saved is not entitled to any benefits, and must regularly sign forms to confirm there has not been a change in circumstances.

The court heard Matthews, who has no previous convictions, was saving the money because he has heart disease, which was diagnosed in 1998.

He had a defibrillator fitted, but Claire Corser, defending said it was not a cure and he may need a heart transplant. He left the money there in case he needed a heart transplant or any other medical treatment that he might not be able to get on the NHS.

“He is ashamed and embarrassed that he is here,” she added.

The court was told that all the money owed had now been repaid.

Magistrates decided that the case was too serious for them to deal with. He will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on June 1.