26 Jul 2019

Benefit fraud OAP avoids jail

AN OAP who falsely claimed £23,000 in benefits has been ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work as punishment.

Matilda Gildea previously pleaded guilty at Dumbarton Sheriff Court to obtaining the money between March 2009 and June 2016.

Returning to court last week for sentencing, the 76-year-old was said to recognise “how serious it is”.

The pensioner had admitted failing to notify the department of work and pensions of a change in circumstances - that she was married and had a common household with her husband.

Gildea was originally charged with £47,138 in falsely claimed pension credit before the figure was amended.

Her solicitor, Jonathan Paul, previously told the court there was no “master plan” and that it was “stupidity on her part”.

At a hearing in June, Sheriff William Gallacher said the guidelines were clear that such a significant fraud must be punished with a prison sentence.

Mr Paul replied: “I don’t think she has long to live.”

But he pulled back, when challenged by the sheriff, as there was no medical back-up for the statement.

Last week, Sheriff Gallacher told Gildea: “This was a serious matter and you know that. I have to have regards to the community in general as well as your own interests.

“Having thought about custodial sentence, I have opted not to do that. I reflect your age and your own health.”

Gildea will be supervised by social workers for 12 months on top of the 100 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

The sheriff added: “That’s not trivial. I have to reflect the very serious sum that the community did not have available because of your actions.”


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