A mum who scrounged thousands in handouts by claiming she was a single parent was unmasked as a benefits cheat after pictures of her lesbian wedding were posted on Facebook.
Kerry Hope, 40, had received income support and housing benefit while telling the authorities she was living alone and had no other income. But unbeknown to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Hope had tied the knot with her 28-year-old lover Leanne Lambert, and was living with her.
Photos later emerged on social media of the happy couple getting hitched at Blackpool’s Wedding Chapel before posing outside the seaside resort’s iconic tower. Mum-of-four Hope was snapped in a white wedding dressed while her partner wore a grey waistcoat, matching trousers and a red tie to match her red spikey hair-do.
Investigators looking into her claim following a tip off found the damning images of the August 2015 ceremony during their inquiries. They even spotted some snaps being re-posted as part of their 1st year “paper” wedding anniversary.
At Burnley magistrates court, Hope who is now Kerry Hope-Lambert, sobbed as she pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in circumstances between June 17, 2014 and September 17, 2015. Additionally she copped to dishonestly failing to notify Pendle Borough Council of a change in circumstances between June 23, 2014 and September 13, 2015.
Prosecutor Philippa White told the hearing the total amount overpaid to Hope- Lambert was £8,065.01. The scrounger claimed income support from 2007 and it was paid to her on the basis she was a lone parent living with four kids in Nelson with no other form of income.
Mrs White said: “Payments were made directly into her Post Office account and were paid on the basis she was to report any changes in her circumstances to the Department for Work and Pensions and Pendle Borough Council. Both paid these benefits on the basis of that proviso, that a change in her circumstances should be notified. It became apparent she failed to declare she was maintaining a common household with her partner Leanne Hope-Lambert. Leanne Hope-Lambert was in a position to support the family financially.”
The prosecutor added that the defendant was interviewed under caution on October 14 last year, where she agreed she had withdrawn her income support claim because she had got married in August 2015.
Mrs White went on: “She also agreed she had told the Department for Work and Pensions her partner didn’t move into the house until September 2015. However, evidence was put to her regarding bank accounts which demonstrated financial links between the couple before the date of their marriage.”
The prosecutor said other evidence also linked the pair to the same address.
She told the court : “It was at this point that Miss Hope-Lambert admitted her partner had been living in her home and they had been maintaining a common household from June 2014. Her partner had relinquished her previous tenancy around that time.”
Mrs White continued: “She agreed the claim had been dishonest and that she had failed to report a change in circumstances for financial reasons. It wasn’t a fraud from the outset. She had a valid claim until the period of her partner moving in. She has nothing of a similar nature on her record. The defendant has only one previous conviction, for criminal damage three years ago.”
Hope-Lambert, who represented herself, told the bench she didn’t want to say anything about the offences.
She was given a two month curfew, between 7pm and 7am, seven days a week.
The bench made no order for costs because of her means but she must pay an £85 victim surcharge out of her benefits. (!)
The chairwoman said the defendant had no relevant convictions and the justices felt a medium community penalty was the correct one.
Source with pictures