Lowestoft benefit cheat spared prison

A LOWESTOFT benefit cheat who was overpaid more than �35,000 after failing to notify the authorities she was living with her partner has walked free from court after being given a suspended prison sentence.

Single mother Pamela Smith began claiming income support, housing and council benefit legitimately but for 199 weeks between July 2006 and May 2010 she received �35,577 which she was not entitled after she failed to declare her partner was staying with her, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Friday.

Tasmin Ryder, prosecuting, said that when Smith was interviewed about the deception she initially denied committing any offences but admitted what she had done after being confronted with surveillance evidence.

She said Smith was repaying the money she was overpaid at the rate of �27 a week.

Smith, 31, of Lovewell Road, Kirkley, admitted two offences of failing to notify a change in her circumstances and was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

She was also made the subject of a 12-week curfew order and ordered to attend a Women's Emotional Well Being course.

Sentencing her, Judge David Goodin said that people who committed benefit fraud provoked 'public anger and resentment' by taking money they were not entitled to.

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Steven Dyble, for Smith, said his client was a single mother and had an 11-year-old son.

He said she had been deserted when she was pregnant by the child's father and when she met her new partner she had been reluctant to give up her financial independence in case he walked out on her as well.

Mr Dyble said her partner had stayed with her when he was not working off-shore and had not contributed to household bills.

After Smith was charged with the offences he had packed his bags and she had not seen him since.

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