10 Oct 2016

Suspended sentence for £38k benefits cheat

A Leicester benefits cheat who claimed £38,000 she was not entitled to has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Carla Hayes, 29, pleaded guilty to two counts of benefit fraud relating to income support, housing and council tax payments, between February 2010 and February 2015.

Leicester Crown Court was told her initial claim for benefits as a single mum was legitimate. But when she set up home living with Lee Thomas, who was employed, she failed to notify the authorities of a change in her circumstances, said James Bide-Thomas, prosecuting.

Hayes was given a 26 week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Head said he accepted it was not a dishonest claim from the outset. He added: "You gave way to temptation and behaved in a thoroughly dishonest way to obtain £38,000 worth of benefits, when you were in a relationship. People who do that cheat the public; that's everyone who pays into the public purse. Those who honestly claim and then cease to be eligible, they have to notify a change in their circumstances. A prison sentence must send out a message to people that those who cheat the public purse will get custody, but I'm prepared to suspend it in this case."

Justine Robinson, mitigating, said: "She has dependent relatives, she's of previous good character and given her age and her attitude towards this offending, it's a case where Your Honour can take a step back from immediate custody. She's willing to make herself available to do unpaid work."

The court heard that Hayes had already begun repaying the money in instalments.


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