25 Jul 2013

Deserved jail for drug dealer benefit thief

A benefits cheat mother who falsely claimed £57,061 has been jailed.

Mother-of-three Cheri Makin, 34, admitted claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit and tax credits illegally over four years.

Makin, then of Blacon, Chester, failed to declare that she was living with her partner and the father of her children, Paul Carmichael, while she fraudulently claimed the benefits between July 2008 and March 2012, Chester Crown Court heard.

Makin, who has since relocated her family to Lincolnshire, was jailed for 12 months.

She pleaded guilty to fraud and three counts of failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions and the former Chester City Council of her change in circumstances.

Jailing Makin, the judge Recorder Simon Killeen told her: 'This was a substantial amount of money that you wrongly claimed.'

Makin had been convicted of possessing and supplying class B drugs in 2011 and had been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

The court was told she failed to come clean about her fraudulent claims then because she feared she would end up going straight to prison.

Michael Scholes, prosecuting, said there were a number of aggravating features in her case including the multiple benefit fraud, the length of time for which the fraudulent claims were carried out and her earlier drug-related conviction.

Judge Killeen told Makin:
I take in to account your guilty plea and that you are a mother with responsibilities and you have suffered with ill health. But effectively this is an offence that has evolved over a period of time, and the aggravating features that you do not have the benefit of good character, you committed these offences whilst serving a suspended sentence for supplying class B drugs.
In an act of mercy, Judge Killeen said he had decided not to activate the suspended sentence prison term on top of the 12 month sentence.

Simon Christie, defending, said Makin was remorseful and had not used the monies to fund a luxurious lifestyle.

He said she had begun to suffer increasingly with ill health during the four-year period in question and had relied on her partner to assist with their three children.
This defendant has faced numerous difficulties, compounded by the need to put a roof over the head of her three small children. Finances were strained, the monies were used to fund basic household bills and living costs, this is not the case of somebody luxuriating at the taxpayer's expense.
Yet she is pictured smoking.

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