Suspended jail sentence for benefit cheat


Money - Credit: Archant

A 35-year-old Fenland woman has been given a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, for benefit fraud.

Sarah Rose, of March Road, Turves, claimed more than £8,100 in benefits as a single person for nearly a year despite living together with her husband.

She was overpaid £7,335.08 in Employment & Support Allowance between January and November 2011 and £769.87 in Council Tax Benefit from January to October 2011.

Mrs Rose (formerly Smith) pleaded guilty at Huntingdon Magistrates Court to four offences of failing to report a change of circumstances.

The case was brought by Fenland District Council as a result of an investigation carried out by the council and the Department of Work and Pensions. It followed an anonymous tip-off suggesting that Mrs Rose was living with her partner, Jason Rose.

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The investigation uncovered clear evidence that the couple were living together at Mrs Rose’s address.

Sentencing her last week [October 1], Huntingdon magistrates said a custodial sentence was appropriate because the offences were carried out over a significant period and she had known what she was doing was wrong but did not take the opportunity to rectify this.

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In addition to the suspended jail sentence, Mrs Rose was told she would be subject to 12 months’ supervision, during which time she would need to attend a “women’s emotional wellbeing activity”. She was also ordered to pay costs of £240 and a victim surcharge of £80.

Welcoming the sentence, FDC Leader Councillor Alan Melton said: “It seems that courts are now cracking down harder on this type of offence. This sentence sends out a very clear message that wilfully cheating the system will not be tolerated and anyone who tries it on risks incurring a severe penalty.

“This is a great result for our officers, who will continue to work with other agencies to investigate all cases of suspected fraud and take firm action whenever appropriate.”

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