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Woman fraudulently claimed £17,000 in benefits after receiving £36,000 inheritance

PUBLISHED: 10:40 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 08 February 2019

Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court. Google Maps

Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court. Google Maps

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A Lowestoft woman fraudulently claimed more than £17,000 in benefits after the death of her aunt and mother.

Helen Monica Catchpole, of Payne Street, had been making the illegal claim for almost four years after intially being granted Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in 2012.

After receiving £36,000 in inheritance following the death of her aunt, the 50-year-old continued to claim the benefit for a further 193 weeks, banking £17,118.55 in that time.

Catchpole appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on February 6, where she admitted failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of the change in circumstances between June 17 2014 and March 5 2018.

Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said: “She made a claim for ESA in April 2012 because she was unfit to work through depression and had no other form of income. The claim was not fraudulent at the start.

“Years later, it transpired through a DWP investigation that she received £36,000 in inheritance in June 2014, and that put her over the limit on savings.

“She should have disclosed this to the DWP.”

Catchpole repaid the money back in full once the offence was brought to light.

James Hartley, defending, said: “She worked in retail in Lowestoft without a hint of dishonesty on her part for years.

“When Jarrolds closed in the town about seven years ago, she was made redundant and took on the care of her aging parents.

“She had quite a few difficulties and had no income. She made a claim and that was granted.

“In 2014, her aunt died and her left £36,000 which she wasn’t expecting. Then a few weeks later her mother, who had been in fine health, was diagnosed with cancer and died soon after that.

“Because of all that, and her depression, she did not engage her mind and realise this legacy from her aunt should have been reported to the DWP.

“She had to admit that, for the first time in her life, she has done something wrong. It was certainly not her intention to defraud anyone.

“Since then, she has been on tenterhooks wondering what is going to happen.”

Catchpole was handed a two year conditional discharge. Magistrates also ordered her to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20.

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