A benefit cheat who stole £96,000 by claiming to be single was caught out when her ex-husband’s uniform was found hanging in her wardrobe.
Bernadette Green, 59, legitimately received housing and council tax benefits, plus income and employment support, after splitting up with Albert Green in 1990.
The couple divorced in 1999, but eight years later the Stagecoach worker moved back into his former wife’s home in Kirkby.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how the grandmother-of-six then received £95,668 between January 2007 and June 2014, which she was not entitled to.
Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said the mum-of-three’s original claim was made on the basis that she was single and had no other means of financial support.
Investigations and surveillance was undertaken by the Benefits Agency after the pair made passport applications using the same address in January 2007.
Mr Green obtained CRB checks in 2008 and 2012 and on both occasions stated that he was living at the home. Between 2010 and 2012 he made a series of loan applications using the same address and his bank statements were also delivered to the property. The pair made a joint application for travel insurance ahead of a holiday to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands in 2013.
His car was parked outside her house on 96 out of 123 occasions when the property was watched from 2013 to 2014.
This is ridiculous overkill. It looks like easy, lazy jobsworthing.
Mr Slack said: “When her house was searched on July 1, 2014, his Stagecoach uniform was hanging up in the wardrobe in the main bedroom.” He said a photograph of the couple “arm-in-arm” was also spotted.
Green, who made no comment during interviews, admitted four counts of benefit fraud. She has no previous convictions.
Charlotte Pringle, defending, said her client did not enjoy a lavish lifestyle and was extremely remorseful. She said Green suffered from asthma, back problems and mental health issues. Ms Pringle said the couple originally split up because of domestic violence, but got back together when Green’s health deteriorated as she needed more support, even though it was not “the most loving relationship”. She said the couple had started to make repayments, but accepted the debt to taxpayers would never be fully repaid.
Recorder Abigail Hudson said she was sympathetic to Green’s health problems, which would make prison difficult for her. However, the judge said the evidence was “absolutely overwhelming” and handed her 15 months behind bars.
Recorder Hudson said: “I cannot overlook the vast quantities of public money involved, with no prospect of it ever being fully returned.”
Female supporters in the public gallery wept as Green was led down to the cells.