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20 Apr 2013

Can't imprison a scheming, fraudulent mother

A jobless mother of three who falsely claimed up to £66,000 in benefits has been spared jail despite criticism from a judge for saying she should not be sent to prison because she has children.

Victoria Teasdale, 32, claimed benefits of between £50,000 and £66,663 in income support, housing benefit and council tax after failing to tell authorities that her husband Jason had moved back into her home in Ewell, Surrey, and was earning a wage.

Despite pleading guilty to two benefit fraud offences, lawyers  - how many did she have? - representing Teasdale begged Recorder Rajeev Shetty not to hand her a custodial sentence for the sake of her children, the youngest of which was conceived while facing prosecution.

But the Guildford Crown Court judge told Teasdale that having children 'shouldn't be a passport to criminality'.

He added: 'There is floating in the air a degree of cynicism in presenting your children as the sole obstacle of a well deserved custodial sentence.'

He still gave her a suspended sentence after hearing that one of her children was autistic, however.

The court had heard that Teasdale, now living in West Byfleet, Surrey, claimed welfare payments between October 2006 and June 2011 when she was living in Ewell, Surrey.

She stopped claiming benefits before suspicious Epsom and Ewell Borough Council officials could question her.

Richard Doman, prosecuting told the court: 'This was a fairly audacious fraud committed over a period of five years.'

Mr Recorder Shetty added: 'You knew they were on to you. Otherwise I have no doubt that this would have gone on and on.'

She originally denied the charges but pleaded guilty midway through a trial earlier this year.

The court heard that there was some disagreement between the prosecution and the defence as to the amount of money claimed with the Crown quoting £66,663 and the defence arguing £50,000.

In mitigation, Rupert Hallowes, defending, said that his client was woman of previous good character and an exceptional mother.

He said: 'She is concerned about how her partner would cope if she is sent into custody'

Mr Hallowes added that one one her children was autistic and would be traumatised if he was parted from his mother and that she is currently breast feeding her youngest child.

He said Teasdale had been legitimately entitled to benefits in the beginning but her position altered when her husband was reunited with her.

Teasdale was sentenced to 47 weeks in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours community service.

She was also ordered to pay £500 costs and arrangements are in hand to work out a repayment scheme to recoup the overclaimed money.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said after the sentencing: 'Benefit fraud is a crime.

'While the vast majority of claimants are honest, the minority who try to play the system need to know our investigators are on their tail.'
  • An inspiration to dishonest mothers everywhere. She has well and truly got away with it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The husband works, the wife claims benefits. Wife gets prosecuted, wife cant go to prison because of the kids.

Did the husband try to pay any rent when he moved back? No, he knew housing benefit was in payment.

Prosecute the husband, he was living rent free at our expense.