VANDERHOOF, B.C. - A man accused of stealing more than $50,000 in welfare payments from the B.C. government while he was in a same-sex relationship has been found not guilty.

The provincial court fraud trial of Gordon Street of Vanderhoof, B.C., heard the man collected the money over a five-year period dating back to September 2001.

The Crown claimed Street was overpaid because he didn't disclose that he was in a common-law relationship with another man at the same time he received financial assistance from government.

In September 2001, Street said he was single and never married on his assistance review, although he claimed to be living with someone at least twice while making claims for financial help.

Street's lawyer argued the claim was accurate because a gay man could not have been married to another man at the time.

In a ruling issued last week, Judge Darrell O'Byrne acquitted Street, saying that the man and his friend may have been "buddies with benefits," but he didn't find beyond a reasonable doubt that the men were in a common-law relationship

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