17 Sep 2019

No jail for £64k fat smoking benefit cheat mother

A benefit cheat who shamelessly fiddled nearly £64,000 from taxpayers for more than three years has been spared prison - because she has children.

Her partner had gambling debts at the time and she kept quiet that they had got back together after a separation and that he was working, a court heard.

Kelly Ledger, 40, of Scunthorpe, admitted three offences of failing to disclose that she was living with her partner between July 2014 and November 2017.

Nigel Clive, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that Ledger originally lived with her partner but there was a short separation and she moved home. She began claiming benefit as a single parent with children but the couple got back together.

She told the authorities nothing of this and carried on claiming, even though he was working, and did not notify a change of circumstances for about three years.

"The claim was not fraudulent from the outset," said Mr Clive.

Richard Lunn, mitigating, said the money obtained was to pay debts and household bills and it did not mean that Ledger was living a lavish lifestyle.

"She has defrauded the taxpayers of this country over a significant period of time," said Mr Lunn. "It was a long period of deception. She has put a proposal before the court of how this can be repaid. She doesn't seek to excuse her actions."

Her partner had gambling debts at the time but he had since given up this.

Mr Lunn said Ledger had children and a prison sentence would affect her family as she was the primary carer.

Judge John Thackray QC told the court: "This is much-needed public money."

But he said that a prison sentence would have a "catastrophic effect" on Ledger's children, particularly her youngest child.

"I have wrestled with this decision," said Judge Thackray. "It has been a very close thing."

Ledger was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence, 150 hours' unpaid work and 15 days' rehabilitation.

Source with pictures

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