Benefit cheat claimed £55,000

A benefit cheat falsely claimed over £55,000 whilst simultaneously receiving money from her husband every month.

Newport Crown Court heard Sharon Calder, 57, had falsely claimed £55,444.43 in benefits including income support, housing benefit, and council tax benefit from around 2009.

Calder had also received around £68,000 in inheritance.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) initially investigated the case in November 2012.

Barrister Jeffrey Jones, prosecuting, said that after obtaining her bank statements the DWP discovered the inheritance had been spent in “less than a week.”

Calder had around £44,500 to pay back and was currently repaying around £180 a month.

Rosamund Rutter, defending, said Calder previously worked as a care worker but due to a back injury had been out of employment since around 2004 and had no previous convictions.

Ms Rutter said, “She (Calder) regrets her behaviour and expressed remorse in her interviews.”

She added that in one interview with the probation service Calder said: “I have made a big mistake”.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said, “You described yourself as a single woman with no income or savings. But the truth is you were being supported by your husband.

Calder pleaded guilty to eight counts of benefit fraud and one count of fraudulent activity with tax credits after initially pleading not guilty.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison and was ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and a victim surcharge.