Holywell town councillor Michael Mills jailed for dead wife benefit fraud
A town councillor has been jailed for nine weeks for fraudulently claiming £21,000 in allowances and pension in his wife's name after she died.
Michael Mills, 64, a member of Holywell town council in Flintshire at the time, was caught after a tip-off. He used her pension card 110 times.
Mills said he had been in a "state of shock" after the death of his wife.
But magistrates said they were extremely serious offences, which he knew were wrong.
Mills admitted 14 fraud charges at an earlier hearing.
Defending solicitor Brian Cross said when Mills came to understand that what he had done in an emotional state was wrong, he did not have the courage to report it and buried his head in the sand.
"He is genuinely remorseful," Mr Cross told Flintshire magistrates, sitting in Mold.
Mills, a retired miner from Greenfield, told the court his "head just went" after the death in 2010 of his wife of 42 years, Brenda.
He added: "I was walking around - as if I had had a nervous breakdown for more than a couple of months."
There were emotional scenes when he was handcuffed and led away to the cells.
Prosecutor Tony Newnes said that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) received anonymous information that he was continuing to claim his dead wife's benefits.
Checks showed that retirement benefits of £40 a week were still being paid out in her name together with £402 a month disability living allowance.
But checks with the registrar showed that she died on January 23, 2010.
Observations showed that he was attending the Greenfield sub post office weekly with his card and that of his wife and was still claiming benefits for the two of them.
The court heard the defendant had been overpaid £21,357 - made up of £2,089 pension credit, £5,239 carer's allowance, £4,066 state retirement pension and £9,962 disability living allowance.
Mr Cross told how for 20 years Mills had served his local community, getting projects off the ground, helped vulnerable and elderly people and special needs children.
His community had come before his family.
He was due to receive £6,000 inheritance which could be used towards the benefits he had claimed and he could pay the rest off in instalments.