A Congolese man living in Handsworth, Birmingham, has been jailed for 12 months for fraudulently obtaining £60,000 by stealing and altering benefit cheques.

A judge at Leicester Crown Court made a recommendation for the deportation for 47-year-old Yemo Lingwendu, who admitted conspiracy to defraud at an earlier hearing.

The court heard more than 150 cheques were stolen from sorting offices and altered to show different details of payee, value and address.

Between December 2006 and February 2007, the giros were cashed at post offices in Warwick-shire and Leicestershire. Video evidence showed Lingwendu presenting the cheques. Customs spokeswoman Jennie Kendall said officials had worked closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to prosecute the defendant.

She said: "This fraud impacted on those legitimately claiming benefits with their payments being diverted into the hands of a criminal, causing severe hardship and anguish."