A ‘desperate’ mother of four has told how she committed a £19,000 benefit fraud because her partner was spending all his wages on drugs.
School dinner lady Kelly Dorling from Grove Park, Bury St Edmunds, failed to declare that her partner and father of her children Christopher Foreman was working.
By the time she admitted the fraud to council investigators she had been overpaid £19,295.70 in income support and Council Tax and housing benefits, Bury magistrates heard.
The 35-year-old, who admitted two counts of benefit told investigators said: “I couldn’t see how I could survive and as there was no one to turn to I did not give notice.
“I knew it was wrong but there was no other solution and I was desperate at the time.”
The court, yesterday (05), heard how the fraud occurred between September 30 2010 and November 18 2012.
Nigel Dulieu said she had been legally claiming benefits since 2005.
He said the council started investigating her claim following a tip off in July 2012.
In interview Dorling initially claimed that Mr Foreman had not been living with her.
Eventually, when presented with evidence, she admitted that although she had split up with Mr Foreman for a while, he had been back living with her since September 2010.
She however said he had not ‘contributed financially to the household’.
Mr Dulieu said Dorling, who has no previous convictions, had started repaying the money but still owed £18,923.35.
Michael Barry in mitigation said: “The relationship between my client and her partner has been particularly troublesome and fractious.”
He said Mr Foreman had been spending his wages funding his drug habit rather than contributing to his family.
“She felt at the time that she had no choice,” said Fran Lewis from probation service .
“She is someone that has got low self esteem and is low in confidence.”
Ms Lewis said Dorling had been in an ‘abusive relationship’ with Mr Foreman.
“This abuse is mainly emotional but she tells me that he is now a reformed character.
“She tells me that since this has come to light that he has given up drugs and gives her money,” Ms Lewis said.
She added that Dorling was ‘stronger’ after seeking help from a women’s refuge.
Magistrates sentenced Dorling to six weeks in jail suspended for a year and ordered her to pay £394 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.