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22 May 2017

Thief also committed benefit fraud

A benefits cheat who fraudulently claimed more than £29,000 was caught following an undercover surveillance operation.

Swansea woman Menna Bowden claimed income support, tax credits and housing benefit on the basis she was a single mum. But Swansea Crown Court heard surveillance officers saw her partner “coming and going” at her property. Her partner had also applied for a parking permit at the address - but when interviewed, the defendant claimed he lived with his mother.

The court heard Bowden’s initial claims for benefits were legitimate, but that she failed to inform the authorities when her circumstances changed.

Between June 2014 and March 2016 she received £5,285 in income support, £8,003 in housing benefit, and £15,833 in tax credits she was not entitled to.

Bowden, aged 32, had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of benefit fraud, and appeared at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing.

The court heard in April this year Bowden had been given a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of stealing from her employer.

Andrew Evans, for Bowden, said the motivation for the commission of the benefit offence was the same as the theft - the financial difficulties she was experiencing. He added that his client had been complying “enthusiastically” with the court order that had accompanied last month’s suspended sentence.

Recorder Timothy Petts told Bowden that by failing to notify the authorities of changes in her circumstances she had received almost £30,000 that she was not entitled to. He said: “I am sure everyone in the community would like an extra money to get along in life - we all have financial pressures. Benefits are there for people in need, they are not free money.”

Bowden was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course.

The previously imposed suspended sentence was allowed to continue.

Source

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