30 May 2014

Slow legal process can't keep up with benefit fraud

Dorothy Haylock, from Wolverhampton, was on disability allowance but when her husband was unable to work she took on his job delivering vehicles without notifying the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

61-year-old Haylock's swindle began in 2009 when she took a job with Lex Autolease. She had been claiming for osteoarthritis and said she was unable to work.

Mr Paul Reed, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court: "She said she couldn't walk and that she needed a wheelchair. She said she could only walk with the aid of a stick and that if she fell down she couldn't get back up. The defendant also said she couldn't prepare meals and had trouble dressing herself. She told the Department for Working Pensions she required care seven days a week and maintained she was 80 per cent disabled and incapable of working."

Haylock was investigated and in November 2012 she was interviewed. She admitted that while working for Lex Autolease she was in receipt of benefits but that she only started work the same year.

Mr Reed explained that Haylock broke down in the interview and admitted she had worked for the company for three years. Over that period she had been overpaid a total of £31,452 in benefits.

Defending Haylock, Mr Jon Rowe, said that the defendant's home was facing repossession after her husband fell ill and was unable to work. He delivered cars and so Haylock took on his job.

Mr Rowe said: "The problems amounted in 2008 when Mr Haylock had serious heart problems. He was unable to work as he was seriously ill. Mrs Haylock in 2009 took the decision to carry out his duties. She made a bad decision to work. She kept the funding coming in so she could keep her house. It was a decision that was not fuelled by the prospect of a life of luxury it was to keep a roof over their heads."

Haylock, who wept throughout the hearing, has since sold her home and paid back £12,000 to the DWP. As a result she is now living in a caravan with her husband.

She admitted a charge of making a false statement to obtain benefit and two charges of failing to notify a change in circumstances. She was given a four-month sentence suspended for two years. She was also put a three month curfew between the hours of 8pm and 7am.

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