A couple from Bulwark Road in Helston have been found guilty of benefit fraud worth almost £38,000.

David Winwood, 62, and his wife Hilary, 57, dishonestly failed to tell Cornwall Council promptly that Mr Winwood was receiving a pension.

This resulted in them fraudulently claiming a total of £37,723.78 in housing benefit and council tax benefit.

They appeared before Truro Crown Court on Monday where each was given a 20-week prison sentence, which were then suspended for two years.

Mr and Mrs Winwood will also have to pay £1,000 towards the council’s investigation and legal costs.

The couple had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges at a hearing on February 22, when the case was adjourned for sentencing.

Their overpaid benefits are being recovered by Cornwall Council separately from the court action.

A council spokesperson said: “Benefit fraud is a serious crime with serious consequences.

“This case emphasises the importance in benefit claimants being honest when claiming benefit in the first instance, as well as ensuring they notify the council as soon as their circumstances change so we can ensure that their benefit entitlement is correct.

“Benefit fraud robs the council of valuable revenue, meaning less money is available to those who genuinely deserve and need it. It also has a knock on effect to tax payers.

“Cornwall Council would urge people to report anyone they suspect of committing benefit fraud.”

She added that Cornwall Council operated a “zero tolerance” policy to fraud and corruption.

Anyone who suspects fraud is taking place can talk to a member of staff on the free, confidential fraud hotline of 0800 7316125.