AN eagle-eyed council housing benefit officer blew the whistle on shamed television star Dan Penteado after recognising him from the BBC’s Watchdog programme, a court heard yesterday.

Matt Allwright’s Rogue Traders sidekick was jailed for 12 weeks after admitting a string of benefit fraud offences spanning a four-year period.

Bournemouth magistrates were told how the married father of twins was now £20,000 in debt after his ‘burgeoning career in broadcasting’ had ended in shame.

Prosecuting on behalf of Bournemouth Borough Council , Johanne McN-amara said Penteado from Portarlington Close, West-bourne, had been exposed after a housing benefit officer recognised him from the television.

Penteado admitted fraudulently claiming £24,077 in housing and council tax benefit as well as failing to declare £56,432 earnings from the BBC.

His wife, Malin, was in court to witness the proceedings.

Ms McNamara said the 40-year-old had started repaying his ill-gotten gains at a rate of £70 a month, adding: “It was fraudulent from the outset.”

Defending, Terrence Scanlan, said Penteado was ‘a man who had always worked hard, trying to improve himself and his circumstances’.

He stressed that his first housing benefit claim had been submitted when he was a Bournemouth University student, adding: “He had no savings and was reliant on a student grant but failed to reveal that he had a building society account with just a few hundred pounds in it.”

Mr Scanlan said the BBC had contacted Penteado in March 2008, adding: “They invited him to return to the Rogue Traders programme.

“Between then and September 2011 he had a series of short term contracts. There was no continuous employment; just a few days every three months.

“It was that uncertainty about his work that fed into his decision not to interrupt the flow of housing benefit.”

Mr Scanlan said: “Mr Penteado was not a man living extravagantly; he and his family were living quite frugally. His good character has been lost irretrievably and he is sinking in debt.

“He hopes to find employment to turn his fortunes around.”

Sentencing Penteado, Chairman of the Bench John Corben told him: “This is not a victimless crime.

“It is actually a crime of stealing from the public purse.

“It is plain that you knew exactly what you were doing.

“It was calculated.

“We consider the matter is so serious only a custodial sentence will suffice.”

Speaking after the case, Bournemouth council Cabinet member Cllr David Smith said: “The amount of money stolen in this case was truly shocking.

“We are pleased that Mr Penteado has now been successfully prosecuted and brought to justice.”