Yarmouth woman fraudulently claimed more than �26,000

A woman who fraudulently claimed more than �26,000 worth of benefits has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Carol-Ann Horner, 61, of Empress Road, Great Yarmouth, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced having previously pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances in relation to income support and housing benefit.

Alex Rooke, prosecuting, said the total fraud amounted to a headline figure of �26,063, relating to a period between April 2004 and June 2009 when she was living with a man, but failed to notify the authorities.

Mr Rooke said she had a daughter with the man she was living with whose records, including those of his employer, showed him as living at that address in Yarmouth.

He said when questioned about her partner she had 'lied to the extent' that she said he lived at a pub around the corner.

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Enquiries later revealed the man had stayed at the pub on just one occasion, in February 2009, when he had been drunk.

Mr Rooke said she has paid back some of the amount through deduction from her pension.

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Rebecca Wastall, mitigating, said it was not a case that had been 'fraudulent from the outset'.

She conceded it was over a long period, but said it was not a case where she was claiming for luxuries and said she was previously of good character.

The court also heard that Horner had been married but divorced a long time ago and allowed her former husband, a lorry driver, to stay at the house to visit his daughter when he was in this country.

Ms Wastall said although he did stay with her on occasions he did not pay her to stay there, save for the occasional gas bill.

Horner was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, to run concurrently on each offence. She was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work over the next 12 months.

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