Pregnant benefit fiddler jailed
A PREGNANT woman who wrongly claimed more than £6,000 in benefits while she was doing three jobs has been jailed for two months.Ex-council employee Linda Thomas, 40, of the High Street, Needham Market, sobbed as Ipswich magistrates sentenced her following a court hearing yesterday.
A PREGNANT woman who wrongly claimed more than £6,000 in benefits while she was doing three jobs has been jailed for two months.
Ex-council employee Linda Thomas, 40, of the High Street, Needham Market, sobbed as Ipswich magistrates sentenced her following a court hearing yesterday.
Andrew Riley, prosecuting, told the court how Thomas admitted four charges of making dishonest representations to obtain benefit at an earlier hearing.
Mr Riley said Thomas had wrongly claimed severe disability allowance between December 2001 and August 2002, along with disability living allowance from December 2001 to April 2003.
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She also claimed council tax and housing benefit between March and July 2002 – making a total of £6,396 in illegal benefits.
Mr Riley said Thomas had worked as an athletics coach for Mid-Suffolk District and Ipswich Borough Councils during that time, and had also worked as a cleaner.
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Thomas, who had previously claimed benefit legally for "chronic back pain" stated on her application form for the district council that she had "no ongoing problems" from the injury.
Mr Riley added: "When she was interviewed by officers from the Department of Work and Pensions and Mid Suffolk District Council, Mrs Thomas said she regarded her employment as a sports coach as a hobby and not work.
"She also said that she did declare her cleaning job, but accepted that she had not done so soon enough."
John Hughes, mitigating, told the court that Thomas, who now runs a cleaning business with her partner, had misunderstood the rules and regulations surrounding benefits.
"She is a person of previously good character and the money will be repaid," he added. "She accepts that what she has done is wrong and she apologises for that.
"Mrs Thomas does have young children and putting her in custody would have a very detrimental effect on her – she would be very vulnerable in prison."
Chairman of the magistrates Mark Wade, told Thomas that the offences were so serious that only a custodial sentence could be justified.
She was given two month prison terms for each of the four charges, which will run concurrently.