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2 Nov 2017

Calculating £83k benefit thief mother gets off lightly

A woman cheated the benefits system out of more than £83,000 by lying to officials over an seven year period.

Kelly Samantha Delaney, from Leicester, admitted four counts of benefit fraud when she claimed to be living as a single mother, despite marrying in December 2007.

The 39-year-old mother-of-two, now living at Humberstone, was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court this week after changing her plea ahead of a scheduled trial.

Lynsey Knott, prosecuting, said: "Essentially, between December 24, 2007, and May 29, 2015, the defendant claimed various benefits - including housing benefit; council tax benefit; child tax credits; income support, and employment support allowance. She claimed each benefit as a single parent of dependant children, despite being married, receiving £83,370 in total." The offences happened while Delaney was living at her former address in Keyham Lane West, Hamilton.

Ms Knott said that two of the charges relate to dishonestly claimed housing benefits and council tax payments by failing to notify Leicester City Council of a change in circumstances, when living in the same household as her husband Jason Delaney between December 12, 2007 and March 31, 2013.

Delaney admitted making a dishonest representation to the DWP in relation to income support, by allegedly failing to declare she was living as a married woman with her husband on May 24, 2008.

Mrs Knott said: "Between 2008 and 2014, she received an overpayment of income support totally £21,500. In June 2014 the defendant notified the Department for Work and Pensions that she had returned to work. As a result, she was then receiving between July 24 and mid-October- employment support allowance as a single mother of dependent children, representing an overpayment of £910."

Steven Bailey, defending, said: "My client is remorseful." He said she married in haste and that her marriage had begun to fail within just five weeks of the wedding, in December 2007, after which Mr Delaney would only stay at her address for one or two nights a week for a period of six years.

Mr Bailey said: "The criminality in this case is she should have been honest and told the relevant authorities. But by putting her head in the sand she made sure that that conversation never happened."

He said Delaney was of previous good character and has struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

The court heard that a sum of about £3,000 has also been repaid by the defendant.

Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: "I don't accept that your relationship was quite as intermittent as you have tried to convey to this court. £83,000 is a great deal of money and you are not going to get away with this scot-free." He added that it was benefit "cheats" like her that unfairly gave genuine claimants a bad name.

Delaney was sentenced to 15-months in prison for each offence, but to run concurrently and suspended for two years. She will also be subject to a curfew to stay inside her home address between 8pm and 8am for four months, and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months.

Source

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