15 Apr 2014

Benefit thief has months to pay over £60,000

A benefit cheat from Slough was ordered to pay back more than £53,000 in overpaid benefits.

Sarah Darby deliberately hid the extent of her income from Slough Borough Council and received £49,134.41 in housing and council tax benefits between February 2007 and August 2012.

She failed to declare savings, child maintenance payments and the ownership of a property in Market Weighton in Yorkshire - for which she received up to £500 per month in rent.

Darby was ordered to pay £53,601.11 - the amount she falsely claimed, adjusted for inflation, less £2,069.83 she had already repaid - at a confiscation hearing at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old of Eltham Avenue was given a ten-month jail term, suspended for two years, at Reading Crown Court on October 1 after she admitted fraud at an earlier hearing.

She was also given a 12-month supervision order and sentenced to 180 hours of community work.

“It’s rare that we come across anyone quite as brazen as Darby was - claiming the same benefits usually reserved for people who need help to keep a roof over their heads, while at the same time owning her own home and generating income from it," said Matthew Chugg, fraud investigations officer for the council. “It’s only right that she should face the consequences of her disgraceful actions.”

Darby could go to prison for 18 months if she doesn’t pay the full amount back within six months. She also has three months to pay £7,500 in costs to Slough Borough Council.

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