A pensioner who married a woman who was working and moved into her home in Redhill, has pleaded guilty to benefits fraud totalling more than £39,000.

William Bruford pleaded guilty to three offences associated with failing to tell Mid Sussex District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about a change in his circumstances. Instead, he continued to claim benefits to which he was not entitled. The failure to notify the council and DWP led to him being overpaid £20,245 of Housing Benefit, £3,954 of Council Tax Benefit, and £14,875 of Pension Credit from October 2007 to May 2012.

Bruford, 73, of Roman Court, Burgess Hill, married the employed woman and moved into her home in Redhill in October, 2007.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on December 5 last year, Bruford pleaded guilty to three offences associated with failing to tell the council and the DWP about a change in his circumstances. At Lewes Crown Court on February 3, he was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to wear a tag for two months that will confine him to his home from 10pm to 6am every night.

Bruford is also required to pay back the overpaid Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Pension Credit.

Mid Sussex District Council cabinet member for finance and service delivery, Jonathan Ash-Edwards, said: “Benefit fraud is an attack on every hard-working taxpayer in Mid Sussex who plays by the rules.

“In these tough financial times there are many residents who are in genuine need of the help and support that benefits provide, and that’s why we are committed to catching fraudsters, and making sure that benefits are only paid to those who are legitimately entitled to them.”

Coun Ash-Edwards said: “The council works closely with the Department of Work and Pensions to identify, investigate and prosecute cases of benefit fraud.

“Members of the public can help by reporting suspected fraud anonymously via the council’s website: www.midsussex.gov.uk or fraud hotline 01444 477400.”