Mum Amanda Hogan of Cliftonville claims nearly £33,000 in benefits after her children are taken into care
A Cliftonville mother carried on claiming state benefits for her two children for two and a half years AFTER they had been taken into care.
Amanda Hogan, 29, wept as her barrister blamed the fraud on a “perfect storm” of mental health, drugs and alcohol problems.
Canterbury Crown Court heard how she began claiming income support in April 2002 to help look after the children.
But in January 2009 they were taken into the care of the local authority because she was struggling with alcohol problems.
However, Hogan, of The Oval Hotel, carried on collecting the cash – racking up an overpayment of nearly £33,000 to which she wasn’t entitled.
It was only discovered when she was being interviewed at a Job Centre and let slip the children were in care.
Hogan, who has previous convictions including burglary, would later claim she kept the money to spend on small presents for the youngsters.
She admitted the fraudulent claims by failing to report a change in her circumstances and was given a six month jail sentence suspended for 18 months – and offered help with her addictions.
Prosecutor Trevor Wright said that the Income Support claims were legitimate until 2009 – but for the next 134 and a half weeks she was paid money to which she wasn't entitled.
“That amounted to £32,815.53 but when she was interviewed she made admissions.
“She is now repaying it through small deductions in her benefits but it will take donkeys’ years, ” he added.
Nicholas Jones, defending, said: “The defendant is a very vulnerable mother of two who had an extremely unfortunate start in life.”
“The defendant is a very vulnerable mother of two who had an extremely unfortunate start in life” - Nicholas Jones, defending
He said Hogan had committed the offences “because of a perfect storm of mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction.”
“Her children going into care hit her incredibly hard and was a blow from which she has not yet recovered. There have been suicide attempts and she increased her consumption of drugs and alcohol and was living a chaotic life.
“Initially she was hopeful of getting the children back and, after that, she rationalised that she could receive the benefits on the basis she was using the money to treat the children whenever she saw them.”
Mr Jones said she has now reduced her drinking and was tackling her drug problem – but she faced eviction very soon.
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