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1 Oct 2015

Benefit thief wins appeal against sentence

Jacqueline Welsh, from Chislehurst, pleaded guilty to defrauding Bromley Council out of £31,450 in housing benefit and council tax benefit/support over the period February 2006 to April 2015.

It was also established that the Department for Work and Pensions had overpaid her £3,013 in Job Seekers Allowance.

A referral from Bromley’s Benefit Section led to an investigation that showed that Ms Welsh had failed to declare a change in her circumstances.

Ms Welsh failed to declare that she was married and had joint bank accounts that had substantial amounts of income going through them.

Having pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to declare a change in her circumstances, Ms Welsh was initially sentenced on the August 7, 2015 at Bromley Magistrates Court to 20 weeks imprisonment.

She appealed this sentence and at Croydon Crown Court the Bench allowed the appeal replacing the original 20 weeks immediate imprisonment with one of 20 weeks imprisonment suspended for a period of 12 months.

The Judge indicated that he had taken into account Welsh’s guilty plea, her references, repayment plans, the fact that she may lose her current employment if she was sent to prison and her child who is dependent on her.

No costs were awarded as her finances were now tied up in repaying the amount defrauded but there is requirement to pay a victim surcharge of £100.

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