11 Jun 2018

Recidivist benefit thief mother told to expect jail

A mother of three convicted of a £107,000 benefits scam attended her trial with the words “what goes around comes around” tattooed on her arm.

Jennie Andrews also sported the words “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

But she has now been warned to prepare herself for custody.

Andrews, 34, from Connah’s Quay, admitted two charges but was convicted by a jury of a third allegation which meant a total overpayment of £107, 738.

It occurred between 2008 and 2016 and involved income support and housing benefit, prosecuting barrister Sion ap Mihangel told a Mold Crown Court jury.

Robin Boag, defending, said she denied being dishonest when she filled a form in November 2013 because it was her case that at the time she was not cohabiting and maintaining a common household. It was her case that it only later became dishonest when Jody Robinson moved in and she had admitted that, he explained.

After she was unanimously convicted by the jury, Judge Niclas Parry rebailed her pending sentence in two weeks’ time and ordered a full pre-sentence report from the probation service.

The court then heard she had a previous conviction for making false representation to obtain benefit in 2002 and had received a conditional discharge.

Judge Parry said it was right that the jury should know that he had indicated before the trial that if she helped herself and pleaded guilty then he could consider a non-custodial sentence.

She was a mother of three and every effort was always made not to send mothers into custody but she had made a decision and had been convicted. It was a very serious example of benefit fraud, he said.

Judge Parry warned Andrews that she needed to make arrangements for the care of her children for when she came back to court for sentence on June 21.

Prosecutor Sion ap Mihangel said the defendant claimed a significant amount of benefits and misled Flintshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions as to her true living arrangements.

From about 2005 onwards she applied for and was paid income support and housing benefit.

“These claims were granted on the basis that she was in receipt of low income and that she was a lone parent with caring responsibilities,” he said.

She signed a declaration stating that the information she had provided was accurate and true.

Andrews was told that if her circumstances changed she should promptly notify the relevant authorities.

Evidence included addresses used for her and her partner Mr Robinson, from a child’s birth certificate, bank details and correspondence from a property managing company which showed they maintained a common household.

He said the change of circumstances would have “impacted significantly” on the amount of benefit she was entitled to. “The amount of overpayment, the prosecution say, which applies in this case is £107,738.87,” he said.

Andrews accepted there came a point when she failed to notify the authorities, but disputed that it was for the length of time suggested by the prosecution.

Interviewed, she initially denied that her partner lived with her. When pressed about his car being seen outside her property, the birth certificate and the circumstances surrounding the rented property, she maintained her account. She said he lived elsewhere and that theirs was a totally platonic relationship and they were just friends. His bank statements were sent to her address but that was because he did not want them going to his home address, where he lived with his wife, she said in interview.

She then admitted that he did live with her, but that it had been in the last year only. Andrews said she had not mentioned it because she was afraid her benefits would be reduced.

Source with pictures

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