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26 Mar 2020

Mother in systematic benefit frauds

A Facebook announcement about her engagement and surveillance of her home helped expose an auxiliary nurse as a benefit cheat.

Stephanie Metcalfe claimed almost £47,000 in state handouts she was not entitled to, on the basis she was a single parent living with her two children.

But when her home was put under surveillance and her Facebook page was checked, it was clear she was living with her fiance, who worked at Nissan .

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 29-year-old had fraudulently pocketed £46,938 in child tax credits, working tax credit and housing period, over a period of three years.

Prosecutor Alec Burns told the court the authorities obtained proof Metcalfe had someone living there and added: "They surveilled their house, had people watching him going to work at 6am on his bike. They looked at her Facebook and knew they got engaged. He was the father of her children."

He added: "She was shown the evidence of utility bills, Facebook, a holiday, there had been a holiday for the two of them and the children."

The court heard Metcalfe, from Sunderland , initially protested her innocence and claimed her partner had no key to her home and did not have meals there. She later pleaded guilty to three offences of benefit fraud.

Tom Morgan, defending, said: "What she instructs me is that there are periods of time when he was there and equally periods of time, often, when he would be gone.

"She has to accept she should have either banned him from the household or cancelled her claim and unfortunately she has done neither."

Mr Morgan said Metcalfe, who "dotes" on her children, has been "extremely anxious" about the court proceedings and has never been in any trouble before.

He added: "The concern she has is not concern for herself, all she is worried about is what will happen to her children if an immediate custodial sentence was imposed."

Judge Julie Clemitson sentenced Metcalfe to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with rehabilitation requirements and 60 hours unpaid work.

The judge told her: "In the end, you received approximately £47,000 you should not have received.”

Source

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