16 Jan 2013

Delays then no jail for £82k benefit thief

Only last week I reported that Judge Clark had kept a £123,000 benefit thief from Scarborough out of jail. Now a benefit cheat who claimed in the region of £80,000 has avoided prison after being sentenced at Chichester Crown Court.

Mandy Harper, 43, from Selsey, pleaded guilty in June to dishonestly failing to notify both Chichester District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that her husband was living with her and his earnings were contributing to the household bills. She had claimed a number of benefits on the basis she was a lone parent. In June, the district council reported £82,015 had been overpaid to Harper from January, 2005, to October, 2010.

She has now been given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She must also carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

With incomes being squeezed, you'd think people might want tougher sentences for those who live a more prosperous life on the back of their taxes. And indeed they may. But if these two cases are anything to go by, a tap on the wrist seems to be the order of the day.

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