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Mother’s £11k benefit dodge
A BENEFIT cheat who plundered £11,000 from the public purse by claiming to be a single mother-of-two has walked free from court.
April Osborne got income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit after filling in forms saying she lived alone.
But in reality the 24-year-old had been cohabiting with postal worker Brett Slipper, the father of her children, a judge was told.
And as well as having access to his wages the family even went on holiday together when she was still pocketing cash for living alone.
Simon Goodman, prosecuting, said between 2012 and February this year she received £11,000 in benefits she was not entitled to.
He said when she first signed on in February 2011 it was accepted she was living alone after splitting from her partner.
But 14 months later Slipper had moved back to live with her and they had a joint bank account into which his wages were paid. Meanwhile his car insurance was being paid from her bank account and his employers, the Royal Mail, had only her address for him.
Mr Goodman said the couple also went on holiday with their children in June last year.
He said she had initially been accused of taking more than £21,000 in benefits but it was now accepted it was £11,000.
Osborne, of Alanbrook Crescent, Cheney Manor, pleaded guilty to fraud.
Mark Ashley, defending, said the case was not so straight forward as Mr Slipper was moving in and out, only living with her some of the time.
He said the original claim for benefits was made when she moved out of a women’s shelter.
She is no longer in the relationship with him, he said, although they had two children together so they saw each other for them.
Mr Ashley said his client had never been in trouble before and was very upset about being in court, pointing out that she had cried through most of the hearing.
He said it was not correct to say she was willingly paying his car insurance and had access to all the money.
“The relationship is, she had to do what she was told,” he said.
Passing sentence Recorder David Bartlett said: “Quite simply in a relationship like this the periods when you were cohabiting and weren’t would be difficult to recall over a period of time.
“When you were you weren’t entitled to benefits and when you weren’t you were. On that basis you claimed £11,000 you were not entitled to.”
He imposed an 18 month community order and told her to do 10 sessions of the women’s programme and pay a £60 victim surcharge.