16 Feb 2016

£32k benefits thief jailed

A woman who claimed she was single and claimed £32,000 worth of benefits despite being married has been jailed. (h/t Dave)

Margaret Grieve was caught out when investigators saw her being congratulated on her wedding anniversary on Facebook.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard how Grieve, who works for NHS Tayside at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, had claimed to be a single mum who had separated from her husband. But she was still living with him, sharing the cost of groceries and childcare.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators found Grieve’s Facebook page had a profile picture of the couple at a ball in 2011.

Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court both Grieve and her husband had claimed to have separated in 2002 when confronted as part of the probe.

She said: “As a result of intelligence received by DWP an investigation into the accused and her lifestyle commenced. Frederick Grieve’s car insurance was paid from the accused’s bank account and the address linked to that account was the accused’s. Some household bills, including the council tax on the accused’s home, were paid from that account. Both were jointly liable for council tax there and no single person’s discount was applied. On her Facebook page, set up in 2010, she stated she had been married to him since 1990 and her profile picture featured them together. In 2011 a friend wished the accused a happy wedding anniversary and the accused replied with her thanks.

“Due to her actions she obtained £32,000 to which she was not entitled.”

Grieve, 53, from Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge under the Tax Credits Act committed between 2008 and 2011 at her home address.

Defence solicitor David Sinclair said: “If she receives a custodial sentence she will lose her job. She could pay back the money at £120 a month. The benefit to society in general would outweigh a punitive sentence. There would be a cost to the NHS to train someone for her job if she is given custody and the chance of regaining the sums taken would be lost. However, she is ready for what may be visited on her.”

It's a bizarre argument that NHS employees should be treated more leniently than the rest of the population.

Sheriff Tom Hughes jailed Grieve for nine months, reduced from 12 for her early guilty plea.

He said: “The difficulty that you face is that this was not a one-off incident. It was a course of action over a number of years and a considerable amount of money was involved.

“Unfortunately custody is inevitable due to the nature of the offence and the values involved.”


Contrast this sentence with yesterday's post.

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