Suspended jail sentence for benefit cheat

Crime & Court News from the Fenland Citizen,, @FenlandCit on Twitter
Crime & Court News from the Fenland Citizen,, @FenlandCit on Twitter

A 35-year-old Fenland woman has been given a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, for benefit fraud.

Sarah Rose, of March Road, Turves, claimed more than £8,100 in benefits as a single person for nearly a year despite living together with her husband.

She was overpaid £7,335.08 in Employment and Support Allowance between January and November 2011 and £769.87 in Council Tax Benefit from January to October 2011.

Rose (formerly Smith) pleaded guilty at Huntingdon Magistrates Court to four offences of failing to report a change of circumstances.

The case was brought by Fenland District Council as a result of an investigation carried out by the council and the Department of Work and Pensions. It followed an anonymous tip-off suggesting that Rose was living with her partner, Jason Rose.

The investigation uncovered clear evidence that the couple were living together at Rose’s address.

Sentencing her last week [October 1], Huntingdon magistrates said a custodial sentence was appropriate because the offences were carried out a significant period and she had known what she was doing was wrong but did not take the opportunity to rectify this.

In addition to the suspended jail sentence, Rose was told she would be subject to 12 months’ supervision, during which time she would need to attend a “women’s emotional wellbeing activity”. She was also ordered to pay costs of £240 and a victim surcharge of £80.

Welcoming the sentence, FDC Leader Councillor Alan Melton said: “It seems that courts are now cracking down harder on this type of offence. This sentence sends out a very clear message that wilfully cheating the system will not be tolerated and anyone who tries it on risks incurring a severe penalty.

“This is a great result for our officers, who will continue to work with other agencies to investigate all cases of suspected fraud and take firm action whenever appropriate.”