A 56-YEAR-OLD man claimed council tax benefit despite having £142,000 stashed away in building society acc-ounts.

Hyndburn magistrates heard the nest egg earned Keith John Pye more than £100 a week in interest.

But he told council investigators he didn't think it was necessary for him to declare the money because it had been paid to him as compensation.

Pye, of Whalley Road, Accrington, pleaded guilty to falsely producing a document to obtain £3,819 in benefits.

He was given a conditional discharge for six months and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Gordon McMillan, prose-cuting for Hyndburn Borough Council, said the offence had come to light because of the links between computer systems of the various agencies which highlighted anomalies.

Investigators received a referral after it was shown that Pye had received £5,543 gross interest in a year when he was claiming council tax benefit.

At the time he made his claim he revealed accounts with Lloyds TSB, the Post Office and Abbey National and capital under £3,000. He did not mention the Halifax Accounts which contained £142,404.

When interviewed he said he had received a compensation pay out in 2002 and he did not think he had to disclose this amount because it was for injury.

Bernard Horne, defending, said his client had no previous convictions and the reason for the offence had been exactly as given to the investigator.

"In 2002 he was involved in a serious road traffic accident and he received a substantial amount of compensation," said Mr Horne. "He is still entitled to claim invalidity benefit which is not means tested. He thought the compensation was not something he had to disclose."

Mr Horne said as soon as the error was pointed out Pye had paid back the money.