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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Cumbrian mum-of-five admits £40,000 benefits fiddle

A mum has been spared an immediate jail sentence after carrying out a £40,000 benefits fiddle.

Stephanie Wood, 42, carried on claiming on the basis she was a single parent after a boyfriend with a full-time job had moved into her home in Workington.

Carlisle Crown Court heard there was a total benefits overpayment of £40,436 for four years up to 2010.

Wood, of Moorclose Road, admitted three charges of failing to notify of a change of circumstances and another three of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain.

She was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, sentenced to do 120 hours of unpaid work for the community and ordered to pay £500 court costs.

The court was told the mother-of-five had been single but she met a man and a relationship developed.

Initially he did not stay at her house and for some time later it was only for a couple of days a week.

When he had moved in he was not “effectively contributing” to the household finances and they split in 2010.

Judge Paul Batty QC, passing sentence, said the sum of money involved was “not chicken feed”.

“You failed to declare the fact you had a live-in boyfriend which of course would have affected your benefits,” he said.

“People in all walks of life struggle to pay their bills and keep their heads above water. You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.”

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