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10 Aug 2018

Husband "unaware" of wife's cleaning job

A grandmother took taxpayers to the cleaners to the tune of £46,000 while secretly working as a Mrs Mop.

Pensioner Bernadette Graham’s husband was claiming various benefits on the basis neither he nor his wife were employed.

But Graham, 67, had been cleaning part time for years, a court heard.

Newcastle Crown Court was told her husband was not prosecuted because even he didn’t realise she was working.

Now Graham, who has never been in trouble before, has been given a suspended prison sentence and was ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Recorder Ben Nolan QC told her: “You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to benefit fraud involving a large sum of money over a long period of time.”

Graham admitted two counts of benefit fraud between August 2005 and January 2011 and between June 2014 and March 2015.

Jessica Slaughter, prosecuting, said: “The defendant’s husband got a number of benefits, pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, from August 2005, on the basis he nor his wife had any other income. She had been working part time as a cleaner for a number of different employers.”

When Recorder Nolan asked why Graham had been charged and not her husband, Miss Slaughter replied: “He said he didn’t know his wife was working. The defendant accepted she had not told her husband she was working, therefore he was believed when he said he didn’t know she was working.”

Graham was sentenced to five months imprisonment, suspended for two years and must carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

Vic Laffey, defending, told the court: “She has a lot of grandchildren she looks after.”

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