17 Mar 2015

Jail for 15 year benefit fraud

A couple falsely claimed £90,000 in benefits to fund their dream wedding in Cuba which took place while they were on bail for previous fraud.

Tracey Dougherty, 38, and Stephen Turner, 60, claimed tens of thousands of pounds together over a period of 15 years.

Dougherty told officials she was a single mother of four to claim income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit while Turner claimed out-of-work benefits despite being a self-employed driving instructor.

The couple's deception was discovered when police searching their Wigan home found wedding invitations on which Ms Dougherty boasted about paying for guests' flights.

She was jailed for eight months while her husband was ordered to repay more than £2,000 following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

The court heard how Dougherty had been claiming taxpayers' money on the premise that she was a single parent since 2000.

She had in fact moved in with Turner who was also given government money as his mother's carer for a spell.

Alone the woman claimed more than £84,000 over 12 years, all the while living with her partner.

In August 2013 the couple were arrested when officials suspected they had been committing benefit fraud.

The following month, after denying living together, they married in the exotic setting while on bail, the conditions of which did not prevent them from travelling abroad.

They both pleaded guilty to falsely claiming benefits at Liverpool Crown Court. Council bosses have slammed their behaviour since.

Councillor Paul Kenny said: 'This couple lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the local taxpayer. At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, this kind of behaviour will no doubt frustrate those footing the bill. Benefits are there for people who need them, not for those who want to subsidise their income and pay for expensive holidays.'

Source with pictures

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