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24 Sep 2015

Grannies grab benefits - 2

A grandmother who fraudulently claimed £66,987 in benefits has been given 40 years to pay it back.

Josephine Bromfield has until she is 109 to pay back the amount in full.

The 69-year-old pleaded guilty to making dishonest representations to obtain housing benefit and council tax benefit between March 2004 and July 2013 - she failed to declare a £63,000 legacy she had received from her mother in 2003.

She also admitted fraudulently receiving pension credit, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Judge William Hart handed her an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

He told her: "You've never been in trouble before. For about nine years you continued to claim benefit, ignoring that your mother left you a £60,000 legacy. Time rolled on and the amount got bigger and bigger, until it was more than £66,000. You realised you were claiming wrongly and it was fraudulent from the outset."

Sam Jones, defending, said his client had paid back a lump sum of £20,000 and was having £1,000 a year docked from benefits.

Timothy Hills, prosecuting, said there was still a shortfall of £40,000.

The judge fixed a POCA hearing, to establish Bromfield's criminal gain and available assets for confiscation, for January 25.

He said Bromfield was otherwise of previous good character, she had considerable health problems and though the £20,000 she had paid back was nowhere near what she took it was much more than most people in her position would be able to pay.

The judge said: "It is out of character for you. Nobody would have expected it for a moment. Prison would be much harder punishment than you deserve. If you offend again the sentence will be activated and to prison you will go."

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