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28 Apr 2017

Light sentence for £69k benefit fraud

A benefit cheat mum-of-five who was put under surveillance by the Department for Work and Pensions was found to have falsely claimed nearly £70,000.

Grandmother Mona Miller, 37, from Cardiff , admitted failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances affecting her entitlement to income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court , Judge Neil Bidder QC told the defendant: “This is stealing from the state – that is what you have pleaded guilty to.”

The court heard the charges related to the five-year period between May 2010 and November 2015.

Andrew Jones, prosecuting, said Miller received a total overpayment of £69,367.

He said she first made a claim for income support in March 2001, which she continued to receive legitimately for the next 10 years.

The court heard she stated in 2011 that she did not have a partner and in 2013 stated she did have a partner but he lived in London. Mr Jones said: “That was an outright lie.”

Prosecutors said she was put under surveillance by the Department for Work and Pensions who found her partner had registered his vehicle at her address in Cardiff. The court heard the authorities made “significant enquiries” and discovered he registered for national insurance at her address from May 2010. Enquiries also revealed he registered with a doctors surgery in Cardiff in October 2011.

In a police interview Miller accepted she had two children with her partner but stated he did not provide any financial support. Mr Jones said: “The whole interview was a lie from start to finish.”

He told the court she had repaid £1,809.88 by living on reduced benefits but still had £67,557.22 outstanding.

Miller, from Llanrumney , Cardiff, admitted three counts of benefit fraud.

Catherine Flint, defending, said her client’s claim was not fraudulent from the outset and there was no evidence she had been living a “lavish” lifestyle. She told the court Miller has four dependent children and is also a grandmother.

Ms Flint said the defendant met her partner via online dating in February 2011 and the pair spent time travelling between Cardiff and London. She said Miller described the relationship as “on-and-off” and was scared to declare it in case the relationship broke down and she was left with no income.

The defence barrister added: “There was an element of naïvety on her part – she was burying her head in the sand.” Ms Flint said her client had no previous convictions and was “very remorseful”.

Judge Bidder told the defendant: “You told deliberate lies – they were clearly deliberate lies – in order to benefit yourself. The system just cannot work unless people are honest. If someone actually took £70,000 in cash in one go I would have thought you would expect that person to be sent to prison. It is a very, very bad example to set your children.”

Miller was jailed for eight months suspended for two years. She was ordered to complete 30 days of a rehabilitation activity, plus 80 hours of unpaid work and pay a £140 victim surcharge.

Source with pictures

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