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18 Apr 2017

Plymouth benefit fraud couple told to repay over £32,000

A woman who claimed to be severely disabled while working in a bridal shop has been ordered to pay back more than £30,000 with her husband.

Christina Soulsby, aged 62, and Cyril Soulsby, aged 66, will have to sell a property to meet the debt or face a prison sentence, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

She pleaded guilty to an £11,000 benefit fraud after she was trapped by undercover surveillance.

Soulsby falsely claimed Disability Living Allowance on the basis that she had severe arthritis and other ailments, the court heard just before Christmas. And her husband Syd, aged 66, admitted fraudulently he had pocketed pension credit of more than £21,000 despite the fact that his wife was working.

They were handed prison sentences but summonsed back to the court under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Judge Paul Darlow ruled that Cyril Soulsby had to pay back £21,508 within three months or else face an eight-month prison sentence. He said that Christina Soulsby had to pay back £11,388 in the same period or she too could be locked up for eight months.

Mike Brown, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said their assets had been assessed as £59,000 each. He added they would have to sell property to meet the debt.

The couple, from Derriford, were handed a 26-week prison sentence suspended for two years. They must also pay £100 victim surcharge each.

Christina Soulsby worked at the Sam Cox salon in Southside Street, the Barbican. Investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions set up undercover surveillance outside the shop.

She claimed DLA without telling the DWP that her mobility had improved – allowing her to work. She also claimed Employment Support Allowance while failing to declare she was working beyond the permitted hours.

Source with pictures

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