An Isle of Wight man who fraudulently claimed more than £21,000 in benefits has been spared jail.  

James Keat, of Thomas Street, Ryde, went before a judge at the Isle of Wight Crown Court on Friday, May 10.

Appearing at the Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, April 9, he admitted dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit/advantage/payment, on April 22, 2020.

Prosecutor, Nick Mather, said Keat had been claiming Universal Credit to which he had no entitlement.

Read more: ​Isle of Wight business owner fraudulently claimed £21,000 in benefits

He said the total overpayment amounted to £21,943.29.

Mr Mather said Keat had "significant assets" in his bank account at the time and he failed to declare this, and he should not have been entitled to Universal Credit.

When he was interviewed by police he answered no comment to all the questions, court heard.

Berenice Mulvanny, defending, said Keat, 48, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and was a man of previous good character.

She said the claim was not made out of greed and there was no evidence of a "lavish lifestyle."

She said the money Keat had was linked to his business, and was wrongly classified as savings, and he used it to keep his struggling business afloat during Covid lockdown.

She said he is "embarrassed, ashamed and genuinely remorseful" and has started paying the money back.

Recorder Malcolm Gibney agreed a custodial sentence was not necessary.

He handed Keat a 20 week sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to carry out 15 rehabilitation requirement days and 15 hours of unpaid work.