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Chatham: Benefits cheat Katrina Marple spared jail

A mother who received almost £70,000 in benefits she was not entitled to has been spared a prison sentence.

Katrina Marple claimed the money over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2015.

During that time she received £64,339 from Medway Council in housing and council tax benefit and £4,498 from the Department of Work and Pensions for income support and employment support allowance.

You don't have to spend much more when eating a plant-based diet. Stock picture
You don't have to spend much more when eating a plant-based diet. Stock picture

But Maidstone Crown Court heard the 62-year-old, of Churchill Road, Chatham, had failed to disclose that her husband Roger, from whom she was separated, moved back in with her in 2005.

Prosecutor Trevor Wright said Marple claimed she only had her son living with her.

She said her estranged husband turned up “out of the blue” and asked if he could use the address for post.

She said he collected his post once a month and did not help with finances. She added she let him leave his car parked outside as it made her feel safer.

Mr Wright said Mr Marple was receiving a pension.

Adrian Crossley, defending, said Marple, who admitted three fraud offences, had “a lack of education and literacy”.

Judge David Griffith-Jones QC
Judge David Griffith-Jones QC

“She feels significant regret about the offences, repayments have been made,” he said.

Mr Crossley added it was a mystery why Mr Marple had been “refused charge”.

Judge David Griffith-Jones QC told Marple: “It is very sad to see you in the dock facing these serious offences, given that you are a woman with no history of offending, which is very much to your credit.”

A probation report outlined her circumstances and difficulties and gave some insight into how she came to commit the offences.

She was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years with a rehabilitation activity requirement “designed to assist you and provide you with the support you plainly need”.

“While I feel the seriousness of the offence needs to be marked by a sentence of imprisonment, it is appropriate to suspend it,” added the judge.

“Given your state of health I don’t feel it appropriate to make any other conditions.”

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