A fraudster who illegally claimed more than £12,000 in housing benefit has avoided being sent to jail.

Menachem Goldsobel, of Marlborough Avenue, Edgware, admitted to claiming housing tax benefit and forging rent documents.

The 49-year-old lived rent-free in a friend’s property in the Holly Bush pub, in High Street, Elstree, from early in 2012.

But he submitted a claim for housing benefit and a false tenancy agreement stating he was liable to pay £950 per month in rent, as well as false receipts.

Goldsobel was sentenced to 12 weeks, suspended for 24 months, but judges took his guilty plea into account and reduced the sentence to eight weeks.

He was also ordered to do 150 hours' unpaid work and to pay £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge.

Cllr John Graham, who is responsible for finance and property on Hertsmere Borough Council, said: "The council's staff check all claims very carefully and, when discrepancies are found, the anti-fraud unit will always investigate and, where necessary, rigorously pursue offenders.  

“Benefits are there for those who really need them and we will be tough on those who cheat the system."