A CARLISLE contractor fraudulently claimed more than £17,000 for work he had not done.

The city's crown court heard today how Andrew Craig Grieves, 48, spent just two weeks working on the construction site for Harraby Community College in April 2015.

Yet he submitted invoices which falsely stated that he worked on the site until November that year.

The defendant, of Mount Pleasant Road, Currock, Carlisle, admitted fraud by false representation.

The court was told the offence came to light when the manager Grieves had been dealing at the firm involved discovered the fraudulent invoices on which the defendant had forged his signature.

"At the time of this offence, Mr Grieves was at a low point in his life," said defence lawyer Jeff Smith.

Since committing the fraud, the defendant had turned a corner and was now rehabilitated.

Working in the Alston area, he was recently promoted and was now in charge of a small team of workers.

The judge in the case, Recorder Mark Rhind, told Grieves: "It wasn't sophisticated or complicated and it was easily discovered... but it went on for a long time. Week after week, month after month, you were taking this money which you were not entitled to."

The judge noted the defendant's life at the time had been "falling apart" and he was drinking too much.

Recorder Rhind imposed a 14 month jail term but suspended it for two years.

He also ordered the defendant to observe a three month 9pm to 5am curfew and pay compensation of £9,600 to the firm he defrauded, to be paid at a rate of £800 a month for the next year. Recorder Rhind noted the long period of time it had taken for the case to come to court, and said that was the primary reason he had suspended the jail term.

"It's in everyone's interest that you carry on your good progress," added the Recorder.