3 Mar 2016

Recidivist benefit fraud mother jailed

Recidivist Tunstall mother of six Melanie Jude has been jailed for duping the state out of almost £36,000 in child tax credits.

The 39-year-old legitimately claimed the handouts from 2009 on the grounds she had six dependent children and her husband was working 15 hours a week. But Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard she continued to claim despite her children living away from her.

The fraudulent claims – between September 23, 2011, and December 5, 2013 - led to her being paid £35,599 she was not entitled to.

And they were made while she served a suspended jail sentence for two offences of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to benefits.

Now Jude has been locked up for 30 weeks.

Prosecutor Joanne Wallbanks said: "She failed to inform the authorities of her children no longer being dependent upon her. She declared each year that the information was correct. She had a chance to tell of the changes in 2012 and 2013, but she continued to claim."

The court heard that in April 2011, Jude was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, after being convicted to two offences of benefit fraud.

She pleaded guilty to being concerned in fraudulent activity.

Anis Ali, mitigating, said the claims were not fraudulent from the outset. He said she was experiencing real difficulties at the time.

But Mr Ali said Jude and her husband were now both in full-time work, and that she was in a position to start to repay the cash. Mr Ali added: "She has learnt a lesson. She wants to put her offending behind her and put her life back on track."


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