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22 Apr 2015

Tommy Docherty's granddaughter admits benefit fraud

The granddaughter of former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty has admitted falsely claiming almost £18,000 in benefits.

Amy Wilkinson, 28, claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit even though she was living in a home owned by her mother and her partner, who was also working.

Wilkinson, who was a British Airways cabin crew attendant, was ordered to pay back a total of £17,604 that she claimed over two years when she appeared at South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court last week.

She admitted two charges of dishonestly making false representations in order to claim housing benefit, Council Tax benefit and income support.

Magistrates sentenced her to 24 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 24 months and ordered her to pay costs of £675 and a victim surcharge of £50.

Her grandfather, Tommy Docherty, now 86, was manager of Manchester United from 1972 until 1977. He was sacked over his affair with the wife of the team's physio in 1977.

Wilkinson, from Knutsford, applied for housing benefit and Council Tax benefit in April 2011, saying that she was on a low income, was living in a privately-rented property and needed assistance with her rent and council tax, a court heard,

She also made a claim for income support to help her and her daughter as she had no other income.

However, investigators from Cheshire East Council's benefit fraud investigation team and the DWP found she had failed to declare that her mother owned the property for which she was claiming housing benefit.

They also discovered that Wilkinson's partner had joined her household in January 2012 and had been supporting her and the family financially.

Over a two-year period, she received a total of £17,604 in state benefits that she was not entitled to. She will have to repay in full the benefits that she fraudulently obtained.

In 2011 she raised more than £10,000 for baby charity Tommy's and was thanked by the Chancellor George Osborne, who is also her local MP. She spent 18 months fundraising after she went into labour at 29 weeks and lost her son, Billy John, who tragically only lived for three minutes. Describing why she raised the money she said at the time: 'I was 29 weeks pregnant when I went into labour but they don't know why, there's just no answer for it. I needed something to focus on. Tommy's has been fabulous with us and on their website, they have a forum where you can talk to other people about it. I never realised how many people have been through what we have been through because at times I thought I was the only one.'

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