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Woman who fiddled more than £27,000 in benefits is spared jail
1:00pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in Local
A REDDITCH woman who fiddled more than £27,000 in benefits over a seven year period has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Dawn Allen, aged 50, claimed housing and council tax benefit for her home in Ashtree Road, Batchley, from August 2001 after she separated from her partner and he moved out. But she failed to declare that he had moved back in October 2003 and she was no longer living alone from that date until June 2010 when she was investigated.
Andrew Davidson, prosecuting at Worcester Crown Court, said the claim had been genuine at the outset but had become false and she had not taken the opportunity to notify her change of status. Allen initially pleaded not guilty to fraud totalling £27,962 but changed her plea.
Mr Davidson said the prosecution would not be seeking compensation as Allen had no assets though he understood the local authority is pursuing her through civil action.
Adam Western, defending, said Allen had not taken the money to indulge in a “lavish lifestyle”. It was taken in small amounts over a long period and Allen had continued working three part-time jobs as a cleaner to make ends meet.
He said an immediate jail sentence would jeopardise her employment and also disrupt the education of her teenage son, who was being educated at home under her supervision. Her partner had a job but Mr Western said the family was in desperate financial straits and had been seeking help from the Citizens Advice Bureau to deal with debts .
Judge Robert Juckes said the two-year wait for the case to reach the courts had carried an element of punishment for Allen in itself. He gave her a 10 month sentence suspended for 18 months with 200 hours of unpaid work. He also ordered her to pay £150 costs.