Woman falsely claimed £25,000 in state benefits

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A WOMAN from Stow-market dishonestly claimed more than £25,000 in state benefits.

Susan Baker, of Poplar Hill, was receiving full Housing Benefit, Council Tax benefit and income Support as a lone parent, but an investigation by Mid Suffolk District Council fraud staff discovered she had a partner living with her from November 2007.

She later went on to marry the man at a ceremony at Gretna Green in September 2008.

But Baker failed to tell the council or the job centre about the change in her circumstances and continued to claim nearly £300 a week in benefits until June 2009.

Throughout this time her partner was working full time as a window-fitter.

Baker pleaded guilty to three offences of failing to notify a change in her personal circumstances at Ipswich Crown Court on December 8.

Judge John Devaux sentenced Baker to 10 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to complete 140 hours of unpaid work and was told she had to pay £2,400 towards the cost of her prosecution.

Judge Devaux ruled that a fourth alleged offence of failing to notify a change in circumstances, to which Baker had pleaded not guilty, should remain on file.

Cllr Derrick Haley, portfolio holder for finance at Mid Suffolk, said: “We take custody of public money seriously and claiming benefits when they are not eligible is something we make every endeavour to bring these cases to justice.

“This outcome means that we have been able to bring an individual to account for illegally claiming benefits – this will not stand.”