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4 Feb 2019

Woman in £36k benefit fraud

A Stockton Tesco worker illegally claimed over £36,500 as a single woman when in actual fact she was living with her husband.

Mum-of-five Julie Evelyn Keightley claimed the huge sum from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Stockton Council over four years.

She dishonestly failed to notify the DWP of her change of circumstances while maintaining a household with her partner between February 2013 and June 2017.

She illegally claimed jobseekers allowance, employment support allowance, income support, and housing and council tax benefits.

Appearing at Teesside Magistrates' Court, the 36-year-old pleaded guilty to seven separate charges of benefit fraud.

Lynne Dalton, prosecuting, said: "The defendant claimed benefits as a single female on the basis she was claiming for herself and three children. The total overpayment was £36,579.39 but she failed to declare her circumstances. She was maintaining a household with her husband during those periods."

She added that Keightley "admitted the matters to the police" and has already started to repay some of the money back but "loses her good character".

Due to the severity of the offence, the case was transferred to Teesside Crown Court for sentencing.

Ms Wood, defending, said: "This was not an offence that started out as intentional defraudment. She has five children and works part time at Tesco. She is technically married but was in an on-off relationship with her partner at the time."

She added that Keightley "suffers from serious health problems" and has started repayments already.

She will appear at Teesside Crown Court on a date which is yet to be set.

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