THE 92-YEAR-OLD father of a chef at a top Cheltenham school has agreed to bail out his son, who cheated the State out of £30,000 in benefits.
Anthony Harrison, 65, of Sherborne House, Sherborne, who has now been dismissed from Cheltenham Ladies College, claimed pension credits he was not entitled to from the Department of Works and Pensions from January 2011 to November 2013, Gloucester Crown Court was told yesterday (Monday).
Harrison pleaded guilty to benefit fraud and was given a suspended prison sentence by His Honour Judge Jamie Tabor QC, who told him that he had been 'very close to going straight to prison.'
Defending barrister Sabhia Pathan said: "This is a very unfortunate case - my client had to take on all household responsibilities when his wife had to give up work after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
"But she is now in remission and is working again but my client turned a blind eye and continued claiming.
"His 92-year-old father has written a letter to the court and he is very disappointed with his son, but he is going to help him repay the money."
Said Judge Tabor "Your father wrote a very articulate letter in beautiful handwriting to this court and you should be ashamed of yourself as this has clearly affected him at this late stage of his life.
"A charitable view is that you took your eye off the ball and an uncharitable view is that this was fraudulent from the outset.
"Your father has agreed to pay back this money and you should be ashamed of yourself."
Harrison replied "I am Your Honour, but I have things in place to pay my father back."
Harrison was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £150 prosecution costs.
A Proceeds of Crime Application hearing will take place on August 11.