May 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, November 1, 2012
A woman benefit cheat, who falsely claimed more than £74,000 has been spared an immediate jail term despite a judge telling her she was “thoroughly dishonest.”
Linda Allen, 59, falsely claimed income support and housing and council tax benefits by telling the authorities she was living alone at her home in King’s Lynn, when in fact she was living for the past eight years with a partner, who was working, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Richard Doman, prosecuting, said that the total amount of benefits Allen falsely claimed was £74,468.
It included more than £36,000 in income support from the Department of Works and Pensions and £32,000 in housing benefit from King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.
She also got more than £6000 in council tax benefits.
He said that Allen continued to claim the benefits despite regular requests for her to inform the authorities about any change in circumstances such as if she started living with a partner.
Mr Doman said that even when she was finally confronted by the DWP about her situation and told about surveillance operations which had been carried out Allen continued to try to deny she lived with anyone, although she did finally change her plea to guilty when it came to court.
Allen of Coulton Close, King’s Lynn, admitted fraudulently claiming benefits by failing to declare any change in circumstances.
Judge Peter De Mille jailed her for 50 weeks suspended for two years and told her: “Over a period of more than eight years you proved yourself to be a thoroughly dishonest woman and were given opportunity after opportunity to state what the true position was, and you continued to claim benefits.
He added: “It was over £74,000 worth of benefits that you defrauded the public purse of. This was not a case where you stopped of your own free will, you stopped when you were found out.”
But after hearing about how she was vulnerableJudge De Mille suspended the jail term but warned her: “I’m giving you a chance make sure you take it.”
He also gave her 12 months supervision.
Ian Graham, for Allen, said that the claim was not fraudulent from the outset.
“She has particular difficulties and she is vulnerable. She is 59 years of age and of previous good character. She has had a difficult life and has suffered emotionally and does not have a good support network.”