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9 Oct 2015

Light sentences for benefit thieves caught on Facebook

A benefit cheat who pocketed up to £90,000 by claiming to be housebound was caught when she posted photographs on Facebook showing her attending raves and music concerts.

Joy Taylor, 32, insisted she was disabled and unable to leave her home in County Durham, following a serious accident in 2007. But her scam was uncovered when fraud investigators found her Facebook page and saw her enjoying herself at a string of gigs including the Leeds Festival,

After being confronted she blamed her mother, Linda, for the fraud and the pair ended up being charged.

Durham Crown Court heard that Taylor's initial claim was legitimate after she suffered a serious leg injury in an accident in 2007 - however the claims should have ended in 2009 by which time she had recovered.

Prosecutor Mark Styles said the Taylor and her mother had received an over-payment of up to £95,000 and the pair, from Newton Aycliffe, each admitted making false representations for gain.

Taylor got a 14 month sentence suspended for a year while her mother got 12 months, also suspended for a year.

The court heard that in August 2010 Taylor attended the Creamfields dance music festival, where she camped in a tent and rode on fairground rides.

The following year during a medical assessment she still claimed to be disabled and just eight days later was pictured posing outside a Kings of Leon concern at Sunderland FC’s Stadium of Light.

The £1,500 a month claims were made on the basis that Taylor’s mother was providing an average 135 hours of assistance a month to help her daughter with day to day living.

It was subsequently found that Taylor was regularly transferring large sums of money into her current account.

Liam O'Brien for Miss Taylor said the claim began legitimately but she was “ham fisted” in claiming it displaying a degree of “naivety” in her social media postings.

This doesn't sound like mitigation.

Speaking after the sentencing Miss Taylor said:
I'm sorry it happened, I'm not a bad person and I've never been in trouble with the law before but the temptation was too much. I lost two years of my life because of the car crash when I injured my leg and I think I was just trying to compensate for the time I lost. The benefits were building up in a bank account and when I realised I could transfer them I did it. I definitely had a good time, I loved going out and dancing, seeing bands, enjoying myself, but that's all over now.
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