Published: 16:00, 05 June 2014
A Canterbury Christ Church University lecturer found herself in court after cheating taxpayers out of nearly £4,000 in widow benefits.
Doctor of psychology Sabina Hulbert’s husband died while she was pregnant with their child – but she later failed to declare that another man had moved into her Canterbury home.
City magistrates heard it meant she received an overpayment of £3,921 from the Department of Work and Pensions between May 2011 and August 2012.
The con was discovered when the 42-year-old, of Harkness Drive, phoned the DWP to report that she was living with her new partner, Alessandro Paolieri, as a couple.
Prosecutor Neil Sweeney told the court Hulbert should have notified the DWP earlier when Mr Paolieri had moved into her home, but instead she continued to claim the Widowed Parents Allowance when she had not been entitled to it.
“Evidence then emerged that she had not declared a change in circumstance in that she had been maintaining a common household,” Mr Sweeney said.
He said Hulbert had since paid all the money back.
Hulbert is originally from Italy and her Christ Church webpage states that her research interests are stereotyping and prejudice.
She admitted a single charge of dishonestly failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstance.
Oliver Kirk, defending, described Hulbert’s case as “an unusual one”.
He said she married her husband in 1999, but he died in 2004 when she was pregnant with their child.
“She then started receiving the benefits entirely legitimately,” Mr Kirk said.
“Mr Paolieri is a married man who separates from his wife and comes to stay with the defendant.
“One thing leads to another and they start a relationship.
“She accepts that she disingenuously waited until the time he was divorced, even though they had been living as man and wife.
“She accepts that she disingenuously waited until the time he was divorced, even though they had been living as man and wife" - Oliver Kirk, defending
“She accepts that as dishonest.
“It was a relatively modest sum of money and she was not using it to feather her nest.”
Mr Kirk added that Hulbert has family in the USA and that because of a rule called “moral turpitude”, which bans convicted people from travelling there, she may not be able to visit them.
Magistrates gave Hulbert a one-year conditional discharge with £85 costs and a £15 surcharge.
Christ Church spokesman Jeanette Earl said: “We will not comment on matters relating to an individual who is an employee of the university.”
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