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3 Jul 2014

Jail for £110k benefit thief

A benefit cheat wept as she was jailed for benefit fraud after she swindled £133,000 over a decade.

Marie Lyon illegally pocketed three state benefits by not revealing that her partner, who is a supermarket worker, was living with her.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that she had been receiving £433 income support a fortnight and her “healthy” bank account was never overdrawn. Her “comfortable lifestyle” meant she was able to withdraw £50 on an almost daily basis.

Jailing the 50-year-old blonde for eight months the judge Recorder Suzanne Goddard QC told her:
You knew perfectly well you should have disclosed the fact that you were living together and you would have been reminded numerous times. I am satisfied you were not motivated by any great need on your behalf. This is a serious matter and only an immediate prison sentence can be justified.
She told Lyon, a mother of one, that she took into account her difficult start in life, her medical problems and the letter she had written to her about her 11-year-old daughter. But she told Lyon her predicament was “of your own making. This was a quite deliberate fraud.”

On hearing the sentence Lyon looked bewildered and said: “I’m not going to prison?” but was told by the judge that she was and was led away to the cells crying.

Lyon had pleaded guilty to three offences of failing to notify a change in circumstances involving income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

David Potter prosecuting said that Lyon, who has no previous convictions had begun claiming benefits legitimately in 1999 but three years later her partner moved in and she did not tell the authorities.

He explained: “This social security benefit fraud continued over the course of a decade during which she dishonestly claimed benefits totalling £133,000." He said that she would have been entitled to £23,000 tax credits but that still meant she had received almost £110,000 she was not entitled to receive.

"It is clear she lived comfortably within her means as a result of her offending," said Mr Potter, who pointed out bank statements revealed her account always had between £500 and £1200 in it.

Steven Swift defending said she has physical and mental health difficulties and was in a state of "extreme distress. She feels her life is in turmoil and fears for her daughter who is about to start high school."

He added that she has been repaying the money at £260 per month.

P.S. Dave points out that a mother in a £400,000 fraud has been spared jail.

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