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5 Apr 2017

Benefit fraud case takes two years to reach court

A woman who falsely claimed more than £30,000 in benefits has been ordered by a judge to pay back “every last penny”.

Newport Crown Court heard Tracy Richards wrongly received thousands of pounds after failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of changes in her circumstances.

Sentencing judge Recorder Paul Hopkins QC told the defendant: “You will re-pay every last penny to the tax payer that you owe.”

The court heard she made a valid application for working and child tax credits in October 2002, on the basis she was single with dependent children.

Prosecutors said she moved in with her husband Neil Richards in 2010, meaning she was no longer eligible for tax credits. The defendant did not notify the Department for Work and Pensions of the change in circumstances and continued to claim tax credits until April 2015.

Prosecutors said she received a total overpayment of £30,566.75 and highlighted the fact she made a number of false declarations.

The court heard she admitted the offence in a police interview in April 2015 and had no previous convictions.

Prosecutors suggested the starting point should be 36 weeks in prison, with a range from a medium level community order to 21 months in prison.

Working mum Richards, 46, from Bargoed , admitted one count of tax credit fraud.

Her barrister stressed she had used the money to support her family and continued to work throughout. He told the court she made “full and frank admissions” and cooperated fully with the investigating authorities.

Richards was committed to prison for four months, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 20 days of a rehabilitation activity. Recorder Hopkins said: “I have been persuaded to give you a chance – don’t abuse that chance.”

A hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act will take place on July 10.

Source

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