Lottery winner is benefits cheat despite jackpot

Michael Duthie's defence said he has repaid housing and council tax benefits. Picture: Alan Richardson
Michael Duthie's defence said he has repaid housing and council tax benefits. Picture: Alan Richardson
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PROSECUTORS have launched a bid to confiscate thousands of pounds from a lottery winner who claimed £13,000 in benefits he was not entitled to after his £250,000 win.

Michael Duthie admitted receiving the benefits cash between March 2010 and June 2012 after winning the prize in 2010.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard yesterday that officials received an anonymous tip-off that unemployed Duthie had not declared his jackpot to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Dundee City Council.

Now prosecutors want to reclaim the money. However, Duthie’s solicitors say he has paid it back.

Fiscal depute Isma Mukhtar said: “A statement of information has been served and I am making a motion for a confiscation order against Mr Duthie.”

At an earlier hearing, the court heard that on 1 March, 2010, £250,000 had been deposited into Duthie’s bank account by Camelot. However, when he was interviewed by DWP investigators, Duthie said there was “no money left” and that it had “all gone on the bookies”.

Duthie, 56, from Dundee, pled guilty on summary complaint to charges that between 1 March 2010 and 26 March 2012, he failed to notify the DWP that he had won £250,000 and, therefore, obtained £7,173.79 of jobseekers allowance to which he was not entitled.

He further admitted that between March 2010 and June 2012, he failed to declare the win to Dundee City Council and obtained £1,391.82 of council tax benefit.

Duthie also obtained £4,825.52 of housing benefit during that period to which he was not entitled.

Defence solicitor Ross Bennett said: “He has repaid all the money in relation to the housing benefit and council tax. The money outstanding was jobseekers allowance and that has now been repaid, too. I had a meeting and he had hoped this case could be dealt with by an admonition but that is totally unrealistic. He realises what he has done is wrong.”

The court heard that some of Duthie’s prize money had been invested in bonds, but that much of it had been spent.

Deferring sentence, Sheriff Elizabeth Munro said: “You have a very odd attitude to public funds as far as I’m concerned.

“This is very serious and when you are talking about sums like this, the sentencing guildelines suggest a custodial sentence is a definite possibility.”

Sheriff Munro continued the case for two weeks for the Crown and defence to carry out inquiries into what money Duthie has repaid.

Last year, another Dundee lottery winner, John Anderson, 53, was jailed for claiming £6,000 in benefits after winning £100,000 on a scratchcard.

He stood in the dock penniless as he was jailed for six months, and said he had been relying on food banks for handouts after the cash was spent.

Anderson, who had been left with no family or friends since his win, claimed people “stole” the cash windfall from him, and said he “wishes he had never won it”.