5 Sep 2017

Single parent benefit fraud discovered by accident after more than five years

A benefits cheat claiming to be a single parent was caught after she and her soldier husband applied to live in married quarters.

Samantha Barry, from Bulford, pleaded guilty to benefit fraud at Salisbury Magistrates Court.

Prosecuting, Kate Prince said Barry, who cried in the dock throughout the hearing, fraudulently claimed £18,000 between July 2010 and February 2016, by failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that she was living with her husband, Scott Dicks.

Ms Prince said Barry's claim for income support in 2010 was based on the grounds that she was a single parent.

But the DWP realised Barry and her husband had reconciled after they applied twice to the army to move into married quarters. Ms Prince said the couple had also had two children together during the period of the claim, which amounted to £18,231.99.

When interviewed, Barry said she and her husband had "only been together in that period for a short time" and "had told the army they were back together so they could move into a different home".

Ms Prince said the money was being repaid directly to DWP.

Defending, Nick Redhead said the investigation into Barry's fraud had been going on for 18 months and she was "extremely anxious about what was going to happen to her". He told Magistrates Barry was also nervous because of the "sheer shame of having to appear before you today".

Mr Redhead said Barry's claim was not "fraudulent at the outset" but since 2010 she and Mr Dicks had had "a somewhat turbulent marriage" and "there had been periods where they had been apart and some where they had been together". He said Barry had suffered from depression and anxiety and was being treated with medication.

Magistrate Elaine Stallard made a 12 month community order and ordered Barry to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for dishonestly failing to notify change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit. She must also pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.


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