Norwich woman claimed benefits despite living with girlfriend

A woman who moved in with her girlfriend but failed to tell the council and continued to collect over �7,000 in benefits escaped prison and a fine in court yesterday.

Sarah Gardiner, 40, had been in a relationship with Lucy Spooner, but she did not tell the authorities and faced a charge of failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions and Norwich City Council of changes which could affect her income support payments.

But Gardiner, who pleaded not guilty, said that she was unaware of the need to tell anyone. She added: 'I've paid back all the income support, and I've paid back the council tax and I'm in the process of paying back the housing benefit at �50 per month.'

Gardiner was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay �100 in costs.