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Folkestone benefit cheat Jean Bushell avoids jail

By Sean Axtell

A benefit cheat caught defrauding the authorities out of £15,246.38 while working as an ice cream lady has avoided jail.

Jean Bushell, of Pavillion Court Marine Terrace, Folkestone, entered guilty pleas to seven counts of benefit fraud, at Folkestone Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

But the 52-year-old grandmother will only have to pay back £10 a fortnight of a £200 fine.

The case was heard at Folkestone Magistrates' Court

The case was heard at Folkestone Magistrates' Court

The court heard Bushell, who worked seasonally, claimed housing and council tax benefit alongside employment support allowance, while working up to 30-hours-per week between 2012 and 2015.

Defending, Robin Jackson said Bushell was “extremely remorseful” and the fraud was “entirely out of character.”

He said her husband had been the main breadwinner until three years ago, when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) forced him to leave work.

He continued: “She is a lady who has never been before the court before, something that is out of her character.

The case was heard at Folkestone Magistrates Court

The case was heard at Folkestone Magistrates Court

“Mrs Bushell has been living in an extremely stressful environment, she is the soul carer of her partner.

“He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He did not come to court today because he is not very good around people, he can react aggressively.”

Victoria Gedge, prosecuting, told how Bushell failed to notify the authorities that she was employed. 

Sentencing, magistrate Chris Mackenny said: "This is a lot of money and it has grown over the years. We feel that taking into account all of your circumstances that a suspended sentence will be sufficient.”

Bushell was given a prison sentence of 90 days for each of the seven charges, suspended over a period of 12 months and a £200 fine.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “Only a small minority of people try to commit benefit fraud but cases like this show we always investigate anyone suspected of fraud and prosecute if there is evidence of wrongdoing.

“If you suspect someone of fraudulently claiming benefits, then call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440."

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