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19 Aug 2014

A Saltash woman has been jailed for 10 months after she admitted fraudulently claiming £80,000 of benefits over a nine year period. (h/t VNCounterFraud)

Julie Foster, of Babis Farm Close, Saltash pleaded guilty at Truro Crown Court to nine offences relating to claims for housing benefit and council tax benefit made both in Cornwall and Leicestershire and a claim to Income Support.

The court was told that Foster had claimed she was a single mother living in rented accommodation when, in fact, she lived with her partner Stephen O’Neill in a property he owned. The offences ranged from making false claims, failing to notify of changes in circumstance and the production of false tenancy agreements to be used in the fraud.

Prosecutor Julia Cox, told the court Foster had submitted fraudulent claims over a nine year period.

In mitigation, her advocate Ramsey Quaife, said Foster had submitted a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and had assisted with the investigation by giving evidence for the Crown. He said she was formerly of good character and had two dependent daughters.

Sentencing Foster to ten months imprisonment Judge Harvey-Clarke said she had deliberately engaged in fraudulent activity and, despite receiving a large inheritance of £100,000 part way though, decided to continue the fraud rather than telling the local authority. He said she had also made no expression of regret or remorse.

He said that while he had sympathy for her daughters, the level of offending meant he could not suspend the sentence. He had, however reduced his original intention to sentence her to 20 months imprisonment by five months as a result of her assistance to the Crown and a further five months for her early guilty pleas.

He said the final sentence of 10 months imprisonment reflected her deliberate acts which had occurred at the expense of the public authorities over a number of years which has resulted in a substantial loss to those public authorities.

A spokesman for Cornwall Council said they operated a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to fraud and corruption.

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