An Eastwood councillor and former mayor of the town has avoided jail after being found guilty of benefit fraud totalling more than £13,000.
Brian Griffin, 77, of Chewton Street had previously been found guilty following a trial in July.
At Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, Judge Morris Cooper sentenced him to an eight weeks custodial sentence, suspended for six months.
Between June 2009 and January 2013 he had claimed disability allowance under the premise that he could not walk further than ten metres, aided with crutches. The Department of Work and Pensions were contacted after Griffin was seen walking much further than that on several occasions.
He was then put under surveillance and was filmed by fraud surveillance teams undertaking his mayoral duties in Eastwood on November 11, 2012 at a remembrance day service.
Prosecuting, Wayne Wallis, said: “He was seen to walk 1,500 metres with a walking stick and assisted a friend with repairs to a roof.”
Mr Wallis told the court that the total amount that Griffin had been paid in benefits was £13,448.95.
Defending, Jessica Vogal, said that Griffin changed the walking distance in his claim form in 2010 to say that walking distance varied and thought that would be sufficient.
She said: “In 2010 his wife was ill from a brain tumour and died. The DWP form wasn’t at the front of his mind.”
She said that he had injections every few months that left him unable to walk. She added that he had a high-standing in the community and is involved in many organisations and charity work.
Judge Cooper said: “What I have heard and read about you presents me with a complete paradox.
“I have a whole bunch of very outstanding references about the work and character of a 76-year-old man (his age at the time) who has put so much effort into helping disadvantaged people working in the community as a councillor and Mayor, charity work and so on and so forth.
“The references are really outstanding.”
He saved Griffin from a spell in jail because of his previous good character, age and medical problems.
He will have to pay £300 in costs and will continue to repay the benefits.