An Ingleby Barwick mum has narrowly escaped jail after fraudulently claiming more than £33,000 in benefits.
Teesside Crown Court heard how Sarah Linkse applied for tax credits she was not entitled to for around four years “on the basis that she was was single and on a low wage”, despite actually living with her partner.
The total payments made to Linksey, a mum-of-one and with another child “on the way”, was £33,575, between November 2010 and January 2015.
She had earlier admitted to two charges - one of being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity with a view to obtaining tax credit, and another of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.
The court heard that Linksey was facing a jail term as the amount fraudulently claimed was more than £30,000.
Alex Bousfield, defending, said Linksey was previously of good character. He added: “She is clearly very anxious about what’s happened. She no longer is in receipt of benefits. She has one child and another on the way. She has learned her lesson and is very remorseful about what’s happened.”
Judge Howard Crowson told Linksey: “Benefit fraud costs everyone, which is why it’s taken so seriously.”
However, he acknowledged that she had a child to take care of, and another on the way, and said he could see no real benefit to an immediate jail sentence.
He gave Linksey a 36-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. She was also ordered to attend 10 days of a rehabilitation activity.
What actual punishment did she get? Do we get our money back?