Watton woman Sabina Kowal given four-month suspended jail sentence for fraudulently claiming tax credits

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A woman was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, after admitting she over claimed on her tax credits.

Sabina Kowal, 34, from Watton had been living with her partner since 2008, but he moved out after they had an argument in July 2011, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Russell Butcher, prosecuting, said: 'The charge relates to July 4, 2011 to May 19, 2015 - a total of 202 weeks - and a claim which relates to failing to declare her partner was living with her in the household, providing financial support.

'It was claimed she had split from her partner and she made a call to the tax credit department on May 31, 2011, to say she was continuing her claim as a single person. However she admitted later in interview she had reconciled with him four to six weeks after that claim.

'The defendant had made two declarations on May 28 and June 12, 2013 stating she was a single person and detailing her income.

'She said she considered the household income as just hers.'

However, the court heard how Kowal's partner paid the council tax, rent, broadband, electricity and water from his account.

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'They were joint tenants, the address was also registered with his employer,' Mr Butcher said.

He said more than £30,000 of tax credit was paid to Kowal, reflecting an overpayment of £15,666.79 had she been claiming with correct details.

Danielle O'Donovan, mitigating, said Kowal - who works as a cleaner at Center Parcs in Thetford - calculated this nearer to £9,823, but that she wanted to pay back the amount.

Alan Cockrill, for the probation service, said Kowal was a polish national who came to the UK in 2006 with her then three-year-old daughter.

'She tells me she came for a better life,' he said.

'In my opinion there was an element of not understanding the benefits system,' he added.

'She now fully accepts she was wrong.'

Judge Stephen Holt said: 'You have pleaded guilty to a single count of tax credit fraud, you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity yesterday and you made substantial admissions in interview.

'One of the sad things is you have lost your good character. The HMRC will be coming to you and they will be receiving the amount.'