BENEFITS cheat Michael Meade has been described by a judge as "one of the most dishonest men who has stood in the dock for a very long time."
At Gloucester Crown Court, Judge Jamie Tabor QC ruled that 58-year-old Meade benefited from his deception offences by £63,027 - and must pay it all back.
The judge gave Meade six months to hand over the money after hearing that most of it is now in investment bonds.
Two of the bonds mature in April and the money will then be released to be handed over by Meade under the Proceeds of Crime Act. But the third and largest bond matures later and it is hoped that Barclays Bank will agree to release it early when they are shown the court order and a letter from Meade's wife, who has it invested in her name, said prosecutor Simon Goodman. Meade, of Milton Road, Cheltenham, was jailed for nine months last November after he admitted obtaining £65,000 in housing and council tax and income support over eight years period by failing to disclose that his wife was working.
The jail sentence was passed after it emerged that at an earlier hearing Meade had lied to the court about an inheritance.
He had told the court at his sentencing hearing that he was due to receive a £50,000 inheritance, bit it transpired that the inheritance was in fact £105,000 - and that he had already received it at the time he was in court.
Judge Tabor asked what had become of the rest of the money Meade had swindled from the State and Mr Goodman said: "Those who instruct me do not believe the account he has given remotely accounts for the total amount of money which has disappeared."
Nick Cooper, defending, said "He has tried to co-operate as fully as he possibly can in terms of the realisation of the money."
Judge Tabor told Meade the full £63,000 must be paid within six months or he will be jailed for 21 months. But he said that if the reason it is not paid is not Meade's fault and is due to Barclays that penalty will not come into force.