A man who was forced into a benefits fraud because of drug debts continued with the deception after his debts had been paid.

Blackburn magistrates heard that over a 30-month period Stephen Cashinella was paid £17,000 he wasn’t entitled to.

Cashinella, 34, of Anderson Drive, Bacup, pleaded guilty to 12 charges of retaining a wrongful credit. He was made subject to a community order for two years. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and £114 victim surcharge.

Jack Singh, prosecuting, said the claims were made on the basis that Cashinella had children who were living with him when they were not.

Gabriella Black, defending, said her client had been threatened into providing his details so other people could make the claims and get the money.