A wheelchair-bound Norwich pensioner who has admitted falsely claiming more than £58,000 in benefits has had her case adjourned to see if she will be well-enough to withstand a jail term.

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Josephine Payne, of Beverley Road, West Earlham, admitted claiming benefits as a single person when in fact her husband was living with her and her case was sent to Norwich Crown Court for a hearing yesterday.

Yvonne Blake, prosecuting, said that Payne’s offences date back to September 1999 until February 2011 and the false benefit claims which amount to more than £58,000 are made up by £41,877 in pension credit, £13,890 in housing benefit and £2330 in council tax benefit.

Payne, who has admitted failing to declare a change in circumstances, did not come into the court for the hearing but her barrister Michael Clare told Judge Peter Jacobs that Payne, 71 had a number of health problems and although there were reports on Payne he said there needed to be a further medical report to see if she could withstand any jail term.

“The question whether she can withstand a custodial regime is not answered in this report. Her problems are manifold and her treatment is manifold.

He added: “It’s a question whether the prison ought to be burdened with someone who is so ill and whether she can survive in prison.”

He said that Payne was already paying back £140 a month from her benefits and Mr Clare added: “I appreciate £58,000 is a lot of money however put her in prison and in her particular case it will cost thousands of pounds a week.”

Judge Jacobs adjourned sentence until December 10 for a further medical report but warned that there needed to be a counter-balance and said that £58,000 was a lot of public money.

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