A man who pretended to be a quadriplegic and stole a dead man’s identity to claim almost £250,000 in benefits has been jailed.

Brian Matthews was able to falsely claim incapacity benefit, industrial injuries benefit, disability living allowance and housing benefit over a 16-year period, receiving £4,200 a month.

The 52-year-old said he had been paralysed in an accident at work in 1997 and even sought compensation after claiming he had lost his testicles during an attack by a gang of youths.

Matthews was able to dupe authorities into giving him hundreds of thousands of pounds by using different addresses in Chingford, Southend and Cornwall.

It was in Chingford he was arrested in February 2016 following a police investigation, where officers found the supposed quadriplegic walking down the street.

Truro Crown Court heard last week Matthews also made claims to the Department for Work and Pensions in the name of his second wife and a man named David Blewett, who was dead.

Jo Martin QC, prosecuting, said by 2015 Matthews was receiving thousands of pounds each month in benefits, but was using the money to feed a gambling addiction, racking up debts of £350,000.

"He found the weak points in the system," she said.

"He claimed benefits in the name of his second wife; he stole the identity of a man called David Blewett, a man who died in tragic circumstances, to claim his benefits between 2011 and 2016.

“He claimed benefits for his children, even though his children had been fostered largely from the time of birth."

In forms to the DWP Matthews claimed to be "totally disabled" and "entirely wheelchair bound" and required "24-hour supervision".

Doctors who assessed Matthews agreed he was quadriplegic after accepting his presentation in a wheelchair, despite not physically examining him.

A search of Matthews’ home in Chingford found no disability adaptions had been made to the property, or the car that had been provided to him under a mobility scheme.

He pleaded guilty to six charges of making a false representation to claim benefit and two charges of fraud at an earlier hearing and was jailed for three-and-a-half years on Friday.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Robert Linford, ruled Matthews did suffer from a genuine disability to a certain degree, but branded the defendant a “conman”.

“Your disability, such as it is, does not come close to the extent you were maintaining it was when you committed these offences,” Judge Linford said.

"Your disability does not explain or excuse your through and through dishonesty. You are, Mr Matthews, a conman."