Northern Ireland

Enniskillen man Clive Miller sentenced over benefits payments

Clive Miller
Image caption A judge said Clive Miller had "brought disgrace upon himself"

A former soldier from Enniskillen who claimed housing benefit while owning properties in Spain has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Clive Miller, of Coleshill Crescent, also claimed income support despite having over £280,000 in bank accounts.

Dungannon Crown Court was told he was overpaid almost £40,000 in benefits between 2002 and 2010.

Miller admitted four charges of failing to declare a change of circumstances to the Social Security Agency.

Two charges of money laundering were left on the books.

'Brought disgrace on himself'

The judge sentenced 47-year-old Miller, who stood in the dock with the aid of crutches, to 12 months in prison suspended for two years.

The judge said he was "a broken man both physically and mentally" and had "brought disgrace on himself" by his appearance in court.

He added that it had brought a personal cost as his marriage had ended and he now faced an uncertain future with a proceeds of crime order to determine what he has to repay.

The judge also said he had received a testimonial from a senior politician which spoke glowingly of his work in the voluntary sector.

Last month, the court heard that Miller owned residential and commercial properties in Alicante which he had not declared.

He had used the benefits he had received to pay the mortgages on these properties.

Unaccounted for flow of money

A financial investigation began in 2009 when the police found documents relating to two Spanish apartments.

The court was told that an "unaccounted for flow of money" of more than £280,000 was found in to two bank accounts.

HM Revenue and Customs said that his benefits were his only declared source of income between 2003 and 2009.

However, in his defence it was agreed that Miller did not enjoy a "champagne or extravagant lifestyle".

His lawyer said the former soldier suffered from a severe degenerative back injury after falling from a hydraulic lift 20 years ago and had sought help for an addiction to alcohol and gambling.

He said his client had been repaying £2 a fortnight to the Social Security Agency as the property he owns in Spain is heavily mortgaged and more than 100,000 euros (£78,000) in negative equity.

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