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17 Aug 2018

A mother-of-two from Cardiff fraudulently claimed more than £18,000 in benefits by failing to tell authorities she lived with her partner.

Leigh Chantelle Dunn, 32, of Broadwell Close, St Mellons, claimed the cash through housing benefits, working tax credits and child tax credits between 2015 and 2016.

She began legitimately claiming benefits in 2008 but failed to notify the council and HM Revenue and Customs when her long-term partner moved into her home. She continued to claim to be a single parent even after the pair were married in April 2016, a court heard.

Support worker Dunn, who worked in a residential care home and earned £700 a month, pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud at Cardiff Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

Dunn had fraudulently claimed a total of £18,019.50 in benefits.

District Judge Stephen Harmes told Dunn at the hearing it was possible she could be sent to prison and said it was a "grave mistake" on her part.

Neil Evans, defending, asked the judge to take into account that she had not initially started claiming benefits fraudulently.

He said: “She is already having £50 a month deducted. Anyone with a basic level of maths knows it is not going to be paid off. It was initially and oversight on her behalf. This was not a fraud from the outset. She is a lone parent with two children aged 13 and 14. She had no previous convictions but I accept it is a high figure.”

District Judge Stephen Harmes said: "One could make an argument that it carries a sentence of 15-20 weeks. The sentencing guidelines set a starting point of 36 weeks but that applies to £30,000.

“You knew when your partner moved in that your should change it. It would be possible for me to send you to prison. This is a grave mistake on your part. No one will ever know your thought process.”

Dunn was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to attend 10 rehabilitation days.

He added: “It works out at £120 an hour. You will pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

“If you commit a benefit fraud again you can expect to go to prison.”

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