13 Jun 2016

No jail for £55k benefits thief

Linda Davis, formerly of Bainbridge Green, Harlescott Grange, but now living in Blackpool, was found guilty at an earlier hearing of three charges of fraud, making claims for benefits, and income support she was not entitled to between 2008 and 2014. (h/t Dave)

She had denied charges relating to income support claims between April 2008 and November 2012. She also denied being concerned in fraudulent activity between April 2009 and July 2014 to claim tax credits and two further charges of fraud from 2012.

At Shrewsbury Crown Court Judge Peter Barrie handed down a 10-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months. He also ordered that Davis carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Mr Marc Davies, prosecuting, said the 44-year-old, failed to declare that she had been living with her husband Stuart Birrel. The claims were made on the basis she was a single parent, the court was told.

At an earlier hearing the court was told that Davis notified the authorities in 2012 that she would be starting work, sparking an investigation by Shropshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions into her past benefit claims.

Davis had claimed Mr Birrel moved out in 2008 but investigators found the couple had booked a joint holiday in 2011 and Mr Birrel had taken out car insurance, telling the company the car would be parked at Davis’s address. He said Mr Birrel also had bank accounts connected to the same address and in 2011 the pair had a child together.

The trial heard that when she was interviewed, Davis told investigators that after separating from Mr Birrel he had moved to Suffolk but still visited to see his children. She also accused Mr Birrel of having a gambling addiction and said he had continued to link himself to her address because there were “too many debt collectors after him”.

On Wednesday Miss Davis told the jury Mr Birrel would often be at the family home – but only to look after the children while she visited family in Lincolnshire.

At the sentencing hearing Mr Myles Wilson, for Davies, said she had four children and found herself having to provide for them alone. “She was at breaking point,” he said. She had been humiliated by the trial and had moved to Blackpool.

Judge Barrie said he had decided to suspend the sentence because of the financial difficulties that Mr Birrel had imposed on her.


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