A FORMER Department for Work and Pensions employee, who attempted to divert more than £3,000 of Universal Credit payments to his personal bank accounts, has been spared jail.

Enock Kimbowa, of Blackshaw Row, in Deane abused his position as an administration officer at the DWP to divert and attempt to divert payments to two separate bank accounts, Bolton Crown Court heard.

Prosecuting, Raymond Smith told how Kimbowa successfully made three payments totalling £1,484.64 to one bank account and unsuccessfully attempted to divert £1,536.44 into a second bank account.

The 41-year-old was arrested in June 2018 and charged in October. On December 5, 2018, he pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position at Manchester Magistrates' Court and was committed to Bolton Crown Court for sentencing.

Mr Smith noted that Kimbowa had no previous convictions but that he had "undermined the integrity of the social welfare system".

Defence barrister Phillip Boyd described Kimbowa as "anguished" by his actions and "very emotionally upset".

He added: "This case displays all the hallmarks of a man being deeply ashamed of what he's done.

"He lost his job a month after the interview, doesn't claim benefits and has debts of £8,000. He also has three children.

"He has no way to pay all of the money back but he's desperate to make amends."

Passing sentence, Judge Richard Gioserano said: "You were a man of very good character and seemed to be a man with a great deal of potential.

"I've taken very much into account the seriousness of the crime but also your strong personal mitigation, including your genuine remorse."

Kimbowa was given a 12 month community order including 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay back £750 in compensation.

Judge Gioserano added: "In my judgment it would not be in the interests of the public for you to spend time in custody and I can't imagine that you'll be before this court again."