Yachtsman claimed benefits while sailing in the Caribbean

Defendant intended to be back by Christmas but became ‘stuck’ in the middle of the Atlantic.

AN Ilfracombe man falsely claimed nearly �2,000 in state handouts while sailing a yacht in the Caribbean.

North Devon Magistrates’ Court heard how David Laybourne, of Fore Street, Ilfracombe, failed to notify the authorities that he was living on a boat thousands on miles away in the Atlantic Ocean.

Laybourne, 60, claimed income support, housing and council tax benefits totalling �1,924.29 between December 12, 2010 and February 17 last year.

The situation only came to light when a joint investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions and North Devon Council discovered a number of overseas cash machine transactions during the two-month period.

Laybourne told magistrates that he had intended to be back by Christmas but became ‘stuck in the middle of the Atlantic and couldn’t get home’.

He admitted failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances but claimed he didn’t realise he had to do so.

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He said: “I didn’t know you couldn’t go away while receiving housing benefit. It was quite difficult to do so where we were.”

Magistrate Michael Buckley said ignorance was no excuse and adjourned the case for sentencing on May 24.

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