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7 Jan 2019

Benefit cheat weeps throughout hearing

A benefit cheat who illegally claimed more than £10,000 while working at a care home broke down in tears as she was sentenced.

Jodie Watson claimed she had a bad back and required medical treatment, a court heard.

The 31-year-old initially made a legitimate Personal Independence Payment claim, citing medication for a prolapsed disc.

The benefit can be claimed by people in work.

But due to the scoring system, Watson's solicitor admitted: "She probably wouldn't have been entitled to it at the time she returned to work."

Watson was charged after a DWP investigator received a tip-off about her situation.

At North Tyneside Magistrates' Court, she pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify about a change in circumstances.

The court heard she claimed the cash over a 17 month period between 2016 and 2017.

The prosecutor said: "She was aware she must inform of any changes about her circumstances", adding Watson took a "significant" sum.

However her solicitor argued that in the context of benefit fraud, the amount "wasn't excessive".

"This is a case which is a little bit unfortunate," he added. "The defendant in this case made a legitimate claim initially."

The court heard Watson now has "much better movement and control" than at the time of her claim after taking medication.

Watson, from Sunderland, wept throughout the hearing as magistrates warned her she faced up to 36 weeks in prison. But after hearing she was "remorseful" for her actions, the bench instead ordered her to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Chair of the bench Gordon Wanless said: "It is the public purse that you defrauded."

Source

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