26 Oct 2016

DWP worker jailed for disability benefit fraud

West Ham fan Jaine Miller loved hearing the club’s anthem, We’re Forever Blowing Bubbles, at home games.

However, on Thursday the bubble burst for the senior Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) worker after she was branded a benefits fraudster.

The mum-of-three from Broadstairs ripped off £18,000 from the public to help pay for what a judge described as a “lavish” lifestyle.

Apart from attending West Ham games and meals at swanky restaurants, the 41-year-old also enjoyed luxury trips to New York, Washington, Las Vegas, Miami, Majorca, Mexico Portugal and Rome.

A judge at Canterbury Crown Court heard she now has £100,000 debts despite working for the DWP for more than 30 years.

Her lawyer Kerry Waitt told the hearing that she had splashed out the cash because: “She would rather have memories than regrets”.

Miller, who worked at the Margate Job Centre, wept in the dock as a jury took just 20 minutes to convict her of benefit fraud by illegally claiming disability living allowance since 2011.

The jury was shown two videos taken by undercover investigators of her “marching” to West Ham’s London Stadium overtaking other fans after parking her car bearing a I Love West Ham sticker in a car park for disabled supporters 10 minutes away.

Mary Jacobson, prosecuting, said it had been accepted that Miller did have mobility problems in 2011 and had been entitled to the allowances but she failed to tell the DWP when her condition improved. Instead, she began living a “normal life” going to football matches, restaurants, shopping and holidays in the US and Europe.

Mr Waitt said she and her painter and decorator husband had worked and the benefits had not been used exclusively for her luxury holidays. He said she had a number of conditions of the spine and had cancer and didn’t know how long she would be able to be mobile.

Judge James O’Mahony said he had heard “an extraordinary catalogue of medical illness” mentioned during the week-long trial but had seen no doctor’s reports supporting her claims.

In jailing her for a year for the fraud, which she had denied, the judge told her:
There is a rich, proud tradition in this country that those who need a helping hand because of disability or disadvantage are helped by those who are more fortunate but if people cheat the system it reflects adversely on those who are genuine. From 2011 the picture presented during your trial was you were living a normal happy life, walking with ease, marching to football without any difficulties.
The judge said Miller was a highly intelligent woman who had “an answer for everything” during the trial adding, “but they were dishonest answers.” He said it wasn’t a coincidence that she had used her inside knowledge at the DWP to “press the right buttons” to get the hand-outs.

After the hearing the judge commended the DWP investigator Gary Topp for the “considerate” way he had carried out the interview with Miller.

A DWP spokesman said: “The staff member in question has been dismissed. As this case shows, we take all benefit fraud extremely seriously and will always investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute fraudsters, no matter who they are.”

Source with photo

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