A single father of two claimed more than £17,000 in benefits even though he had more than £50,000 in savings, a court was told.

Michael Grimshaw, 39, of Beaconsfield Terrace, Chorley, went to great lengths to conceal the money he had received from a life insurance pay out following the accidental death of his partner, claiming, when challenged, he had used all the money to pay off debts.

But magistrates in Chorley heard that although the money was in a friend’s account, he still had access to it.

Grimshaw pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulently claiming more than £17,000 in income support and council tax benefit.

The court was told he initially claimed benefits in February 2007 as an unemployed single parent.

However, in November 2007, he received a £50,000 life insurance pay out and invested the money.

But in September 2008, he withdrew the entire amount, by then £52,000, and closed the account.

When interviewed he said he used the money to pay back loans from an associate and after the interview even produced a signed witness statement giving details of how he had accrued the debts.

A letter was also received from Grimshaw’s associate, seemingly posted from an address in France, confirming the repayment of the loans.

But, the court was told, when investigators checked out his story, they found it to be totally false and, when they challenged him, he admitted that he’d lied The magistrates handed Grimshaw a 12-month community order and ordered him to do 80 hours unpaid work .

The overpaid council tax has been repaid in full as has most of the income support, the remainder is being recovered in instalments.