A SON who defrauded City of York Council by £86,000 over his mother’s care fees has avoided jail after a judge said he had repaid the lot and had "impeccable" character references.

Neil Long, of Leighton Croft, Rawcliffe, York, was handed a 20 month jail sentence, suspended for a year, by Judge Simon Hickey at York Crown Court.

The 54-year-old, who had pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing at York Magistrates' Court, was ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work for the community and also to pay the council’s costs of £1,138 and a £140 surcharge.

The judge warned him he would come back to court and could be jailed for up to 20 months if he committed any further offence or breached the order.

He said Long had committed a serious fraud and the rules were intended to ensure that those who could afford it paid their way for care while the state paid for needy people to receive it.

Andrew Petterson said in mitigation that Long had repaid the council the full £86,138.

He said character references submitted to the judge had spoken "very highly" of him and he had been a loving son to his parents.

The magistrates, who sent him to the crown court for sentence, were told previously that Long had pocketed £190,000 from the sale of his parents’ home but claimed to council social care staff that his parents still owned the house jointly and that his father still lived in it. As a result, the council taxpayer paid all his mother’s care fees until his deception was discovered.

Long attended meetings between his parents and solicitors over the house sale to his brother-in-law in March 2014 and the house sold for £200,000, of which £190,000 went into Long’s bank account in April 2014, and he was aware of that sale.

In September 2015, he told the council his father was living in the house and in November 2015 he signed a form stating the same.

The law says that when social care officers count up an individual’s assets to decide how much someone should pay in care fees, they normally shouldn’t include the value of the person’s house if the person’s spouse is still living in it.