Statcounter

10 Feb 2014

No jail for £50k benefit thief

A 49-year-old grandmother was “coerced” into swindling more than £50,000 in benefits, a court was told.

Caroline Foster, who used some of the cash to pay for holidays, was bullied by her traveller husband, her defence argued. She fraudulently claimed £34,244 in income support, £9,125 in housing benefit and £7,129 in council tax, a total of £50,499.

Foster told the Department for Work and Pensions and Redcar and Cleveland Council that she was single, although her husband lived with her.

Prosecutor John Gillette said: “There is extensive evidence to demonstrate that Mr Foster was living in the home address.” She pleaded guilty to three counts of making a dishonest representation to obtain benefits.

Umza Khan, defending, said her client was a “vulnerable individual”, of previously good character, who “fully accepts her offending behaviour and does not seek to minimise it”. She added that Foster had married into the travelling community and had struggled to be accepted within it. Ms Khan said that her client had been “subjected to a great deal of violence” by Mr Foster who continued to have a “controlling hand” in her life. She said: “I would argue that she was somewhat coerced into making decisions by Mr Foster.”

The court was told that Foster had begun repaying the money.

Recorder Hilary Manley said:
These benefits frauds were fraudulent from the outset over a significant period of time. There were multiple false claims and a significant amount of public money has been paid to you that should not have been.
She added that an “aggravating feature” was that some money was used for holidays but said she took into consideration Foster’s relationship with her husband.

Foster was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years with a two-year supervision order.

No comments: