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16 Aug 2017

Married couple in £47k benefit fraud over six years

A husband and wife motivated by greed paid for their family holidays using some of the £47,000 they falsely claimed in benefits, a court heard.

Kevin and Natasha Lambert admitted six counts of benefit fraud involving housing benefit, council tax benefit, income support and employment and support allowance.

Sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Eleri Rees said: “This was not based on need, but on greed.”

James Evans, prosecuting, said Kevin Lambert fraudulently claimed more than £26,000 and his wife more than £21,000 between 2008 and 2014. He said: “They were living together as man and wife, but claiming as if they were two separate households.”

Prosecutors said Kevin Lambert was also working as a builder while claiming benefits to which he was not entitled.

Kevin Lambert, 38, from Brynheulog in Pentwyn, Cardiff , admitted four counts of benefit fraud. Prosecutors said he had been before the courts for 11 offences, including burglary, attempted robbery and shoplifting. He also had a previous conviction for benefit fraud.

Charley Pattison, defending, said her client had paid back £775 in the last three years. She added: “He accepts that is a drop in the ocean, but for him it is a significant sum.” The defence barrister said her client was confused about the meaning of “common household” and had moved out of the family home at various points.

He was jailed for 26 weeks and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

Judge Rees said she would distinguish between the defendants, as Natasha Lambert did not have any previous convictions.

She noted some of the money had been spent on several holidays.

Natasha Lambert, 34, admitted two counts of benefit fraud.

Ruth Smith, defending, stressed her client had no previous convictions and told the court she had so far re-paid £325. She described the couple’s relationship as “difficult” and explained they were not always living in the same property, which led to confusion about their claims.

Ms Smith described the offending as out of character and said her client, a mum-of-five, volunteered for a playgroup, showing a “social conscience”. The defence barrister acknowledged the offending crossed the custody threshold, but asked for any prison sentence to be suspended.

Natasha Lambert was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work, as well as pay a £115 victim surcharge.

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