Woman Who Committed £32,000 Benefits Fraud is Fined £200

PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:51 04 May 2010

A WOMAN who fraudulently claimed more than £32,000 in benefits has escaped a prison sentence and been fined just £200. Ely Magistrates decided not to jail 50-year-old Debbie Elaine Loades because of her ill-health, despite the vast amount of money overpai

A WOMAN who fraudulently claimed more than £32,000 in benefits has escaped a prison sentence and been fined just £200.

Ely Magistrates decided not to jail 50-year-old Debbie Elaine Loades because of her ill-health, despite the vast amount of money overpaid to her.

The bench heard from Crown Prosecutor Lowrie Roberts that Loades, of Perry Close, Haddenham, was previously found guilty of three counts of making false statements on her benefit claims. In total, she received £32, 847.36 via income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit, across a period of almost three years, because she did not declare that her husband had moved back in with her.

Ms Roberts said: "It was not the Crown's case that this was a fraudulent claim from the start but there is evidence to suggest that Robert Loades, the defendant's husband, had moved back home." She explained that Loades should have notified the relevant agencies of the change in her circumstances.

Ms Roberts told the magistrates that when Loades was interviewed she maintained that her husband was not living with her, despite the fact that his salary was paid into the same account as her benefits. He had also told his employers he was living at her address.

Guy Holland, who represented Loades in court, said the couple had split in 1999 and she made the claim for benefit with the help of her mental health care worker. He described her current financial situation as "very dire" and she was left with a net income of £47 a month.

He continued: "Mrs Loades is mentally and physically very vulnerable. She suffers from asthma, emphysema, arthritis, osteoporosis and, not surprisingly in these circumstances, depression."

He continued: "This was a confusing case and it was also the defendant's case that her husband had never moved back in. She allowed him stay overnight on a number of occasions to help care for their two children, who themselves have difficulties."

Chairman of the bench, Sur Griffin, sentenced Loades to an 18-month supervision order and ordered her to pay £200 costs, despite an application from the Crown for costs to be set at £1,000.

Mrs Griffin said: "Your mental and physical health has made a big difference to the sentence."

Loades, will pay £25 a month towards repaying the benefit once she has finished paying back a crisis loan, which at that rate will take her more than 100 years to repay.

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