A benefit cheat mum who swindled more than £50,000 was told by a judge that "taxpayers subsidised her family" for seven years. (h/t Dave)
Tracey Wilson started claiming benefits as a single parent when she split up with her partner – but failed to notify the authorities when the pair got back together.
Over a seven-year period – during which time she and her partner had a third child – the 47-year-old claimed a total of £50,897.
Nottingham Crown Court was told that she did not think the relationship was going to work and had "buried her head in the sand" by not notifying the authorities.
But Judge Michael Stokes told the court she had "continued to take the money".
Wilson admitted failing to tell Nottingham City Council, and the Department for Work and Pensions, about her change in living arrangements. Her partner was earning £30,000-a-year working for Rolls-Royce.
Judge Stokes said: "We have his income and the taxpayer subsidising them for seven years."
Wilson cried as she was handed a nine-month jail sentence, suspended for one year, and was told to do 150 hours of community work.
Judge Stokes said: "For a period of several years you have been in receipt of benefit totalling some £50,000 which you must have known, and I am satisfied did know, certainly by 2008, that you were not entitled to. What happened was you sat back and allowed this money to continue to be paid to you."
The court heard that Wilson, a former teaching assistant, began claiming benefits legitimately in 1999 when her relationship broke down and she was raising her two children as a single mum.
In 2008 she was reunited with her former partner, and he moved back into the family home. But the benefits claims continued and were spent on bringing up the children and daily expenses.
The judge was told how benefit investigators checked on the family – driving past the house 24 times and seeing the dad's car in the driveway on 20 occasions. His work records also showed that he was living at her address.
Mitigating, Christine Luckock said that Wilson was suffering from depression and was remorseful.
"The reason she got into this mess was because the relationship between herself and her partner was quite volatile. They had a relationship for a considerable period of time and had two children. They split up. He was still in contact with the children. They resumed living together in September 2008 but at that point she didn't think the relationship was going to work and didn't notify the authorities in the circumstances. She effectively buried her head in the sand."
The court was told that Wilson now works in a cafe, earning £150 per week. She is paying £350 each month back to the authorities.
Do you know a benefit cheat? Call the fraud hotline on 0800 854 440.