A GULF War hero failed to declare his Army pension and was overpaid £9,000.
But his solicitor hit out at the fact Ralph Allan Millington, who had lost his health fighting for his country, had been prosecuted at all.
Brian Cross, defending at Flintshire Magistrates Court, said Milington was a war veteran with battle honours citations and medals – one which he produced to the court – including one for the liberation of Kuwait.
He now suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
He took a variety of medications, but in civilian life continued to serve his community in a voluntary capacity with vulnerable people and should have been cautioned, Mr Cross said.
“I feel very strongly about this case and I asked the prosecuting authorities why this man could not be given a caution?” he said. “There are far more serious cases including offences for violence where the prosecution authorities are willing to accept a caution. But in this case the prosecution have decided they want to proceed.”
Millington, 57, of Butler Street, Shotton, admitted failing to declare his Army pension when he applied for benefits from Flintshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The defendant, who has already repaid the £9,000, was fined £225 with £695 costs.
Louise Edwards, prosecuting, said Milington failed to declare he had an Army pension when he claimed employment support allowance, council tax benefit and council house benefit.
She said the claim was false from the start and the pension was paid into an undisclosed bank account.
Officials were alerted after a national anti-fraud initiative and said it would have continued but for that.
Mr Cross said Millington had been a gunner in the Army, where he had served with distinction for 22 years until 2001. He then worked in a paper mill, set up his own business but he suffered from stress, his marriage broke down, he was £40,000 in debt and at one stage was homeless.
He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following his military experiences – he was a war veteran with plaques and medals which showed his service. Mr Cross said this was important mitigation and handed the medals to the court.
He had not fully understood the position when he applied for benefits but accepted he had made a mistake.
Milington had been praised for his work as a gunner, often in hostile conditions, and had been responsible for his equipment and the safety of his men. He had been commended on leaving the Army for putting the his fellow soldiers before himself and that continued in civilian life when he had been a volunteer for the Blacon Cyber Centre in Chester and he also worked with vulnerable people throughout Flintshire.
But he was entitled to rely on his Army service and his service to his local community. It was a substantial amount of money but it had been repaid and he had pleaded guilty at an early stage.