Published: 00:01, 25 June 2014 |
Updated: 12:23, 25 June 2014
A woman who "brazenly" cheated the welfare state out of almost £100,000 in benefits has been spared prison.
A judge told 46-year-old Cindi Gould that while imprisonment was demanded, he could suspend her sentence due to her health difficulties.
Gould, of The Paddock, Hadlow, had denied two offences of failing to notify a change in circumstances between March 2004 and December 2011, making a false representation in January 2011 and fraudulent activity relating to tax credits between January 2009 and December 2011.
But despite being convicted by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court in February - and previous convictions for obtaining property by deception in 1997 - Judge David Griffith-Jones QC suspended her 10-month jail term for two years.
However, he added as there needed to be an "element of punishment", he made Gould subject to a four-month tagged curfew between 8pm and 6am.
The court heard Gould was originally entitled to the benefits she was claiming, including income support.
However, she failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions her partner had moved in with her and was working.
The total benefit paid to her over a seven-year period was described as "a shade under £100,000".
However, Andrew Lewis, defending, said there was nothing to suggest Gould had lived a "comfortable" lifestyle.
He told the court she was in a "truly wretched position", coping with both her own ill health and that of her teenage son.
Mr Lewes said radical surgery to prevent cancer "went horribly wrong" and left Gould "living a life of considerable pain and a great deal of medication".
He added her case was in a different category to those who choose not to work while claiming from the state.
Passing sentence, Judge Griffith-Jones told Gould she had been convicted on overwhelming evidence.
"This was a brazen fraud or series of frauds committed with your eyes open for your own benefit," he said.
Commenting on the sentence, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council’s cabinet member for finance, cllr Martin Coffin said: “It’s very clear that Tonbridge and Malling residents will not tolerate benefit cheats in their communities.
"this is just the latest in a growing number of ‘tip offs’ we have received from the public and we will continue to follow up every lead to ensure that people who defraud the benefit system are caught and brought to justice.”
Stories you might have missed
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Find out what's going on in the garden, with Kent expert Lucy Hewett's weekly update.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.