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3 Dec 2018

Benefit fraud mother hid savings from benefits

A “dedicated” mother who spent years saving up her benefit payments to help out her son may be forced to pay the money back.

Kayann Phillips is a carer for her 23-year-old son and, instead of spending all the money she received in benefits, decided to save as much as she could each month.

After building up more than £50,000 in savings at one point she has now been convicted of benefit fraud.

Speaking at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “I find that this is an unusual case.”

The 55-year-old denied six counts of benefit fraud but was found guilty by a jury following a two-day trial at Newport Crown Court.

Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said the charges related to the period between August 2011 and September 2017.

The court heard Phillips was “absolutely entitled” to claim the social security benefits.

In his sentencing remarks Judge Jenkins said: “Unusually you were not spending those benefits to the full extent but you were saving part of the money you received. You were saving, I have no doubt, for a very noble purpose – to enrich your son’s life.”

The court heard her adult son has “considerable difficulties” and she has been caring for him since he was born.

Benefit claimants must inform the Department for Work and Pensions if they have savings. The authorities then make deductions according to the amount involved.

Prosecutors said at one stage Phillips had more than £50,000 in savings but failed to declare them on her claim forms.

Judge Jenkins said: “As a result you were not entitled to the full benefits you continued to receive.”

Mr Gobir said the total overpayment was more than £70,000 and there will be a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act on February 22.

Clare Wilks, defending, described the circumstances as “unusual” and said the Probation Service found her client to present a low risk of re-offending.

The court heard the defendant only has access to her current account as her other accounts have been restrained.

Judge Jenkins said: “I find that this is an unusual case, albeit the charge of fraud is clearly made out.”

He noted the amount involved as “considerable” and said the forms made it “abundantly clear” the defendant should have declared any savings.

The judge described Phillips as a “dedicated” mother who had previously led an “unblemished” life. He added: “You are 55 and you have never before come anywhere close to getting into trouble.”

Phillips, from Llanharan, Pontyclun, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

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