25 Apr 2013

Benefit thief Tapping's appeal briskly dismissed

A judge blasted Trowbridge benefit cheat Mary Tapping, telling the church worker 'You seem to think the world owes you a living,' as he threw out her appeal.

The 64-year-old claimed a night time curfew interfered with her job as editor of the Salisbury diocese magazine Sarum Link.

But even though the Church had made her redundant with a £3,400 pay-off she still persisted in trying to get the order lifted.

Recorder Michael Selfe, sitting at Swindon Crown Court with two magistrates, took just a couple of minutes to throw out her application.

He said
We take the view that this appeal is entirely without merit. That if any criticism can be levelled at the magistrates, it was that they were lenient. You seem to think the world owes you a living. You are an intelligent woman, you have been a journalist and were working as a journalist. No doubt in the course of your work you have reported or seen reports of benefit fraudsters. Every man and woman in this court has to pay tax and you cheat the system. You did it once before and you were treated, it seems, very leniently. If you do it again you will probably go to prison and probably for a substantial period of time.
In March, Tapping, from Hilperton, was put on a three-month curfew for dishonestly claiming £4,757 in council tax benefit and £5,635.39p pension credit.

Earlier this month she had another month added to the sentence after she breached the restriction keeping her at home from 7.30pm to 7am.

Stephen Ritter, for Tapping, said his client suffered depression and anxiety and her work was therapeutic.

On Saturday night he said she was rushed to hospital by ambulance after undergoing what may have been a panic attack.

He said since the sentence was passed she had agreed to take redundancy from her job at the church and an agreed payment of £3,400 was due to her.

She had already repaid the council tax money she received and would put her redundancy towards the pension credit she wrongly received.

He said "She has had great difficulty keeping with the claustrophobic effects of being subject to a curfew."

It made it impossible for her to attend cathedral meetings but that was now not relevant as she had lost the position.

The tag, which has to be on her wrist because she has problems with her legs and hips, also inhibits her search for work, he said.

He said that she had massive debts, and was even made bankrupt over a credit card bill, but was trying to pay them off.

Tapping was convicted of two counts of failing to notify a change in circumstance to Wiltshire council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

She made a joint claim for benefits with her partner but she failed to say when her husband got a job in 2009 earning more than £30,000 a year.

Between February 2009 and November 2011, she was overpaid a total of £10,393.39. The court was told she had a previous conviction for a similar matter from 1998.

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