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5 Dec 2017

Benefit thief mother avoids jail

A charity volunteer cheated over £30,000 in benefits whilst helping the homeless.

Mother of three Jodie Broad, 30, claimed she was a single parent - but was happily married and living with her husband Barry.

Over a three year period the children’s nursery worker pocketed extra on child tax credits, income support and housing benefit - despite having a joint income with Mr Broad, also 30, a Minshull Street Crown Court sentencing heard.

The claim had initially been legitimate as the couple had temporarily split up, but she carried on claiming she was single after she and her husband, a food company worker, got back together in 2012.

Broad, from Hyde in Greater Manchester, works in a children’s nursery and volunteers with homeless charity Shelter. She claimed £32,425 in benefits from July 2012 to November 2015 before she was found out. She later claimed she had financial problem and had ‘buried her head in the sand.’

But inquiries revealed she repeatedly made fresh claims for benefits when the couple moved house and repeatedly maintained she was single when given the opportunity to update officials.

At court Broad pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly and fraudulently claiming benefits and brought an overnight bag with her in preparation for going to jail.

But Judge John Potter told her: “I am telling you now the outcome of this sentence so you are not anxious throughout it and you can listen to what I have to say. You are not going to prison.

“You are a woman without any previous convictions whatsoever. The money you pocketed is money you stole from your community, it was money that could have been used in the community. But it is clear from the references that you do a lot with the community and not only do you do it you do it in an exemplary fashion. You will know the harm taking the money can have on the community, £30,000 could have been used to support people in the community. You had financial difficulties and I accept that affected your life. This is an unusual case because you are somebody who committed this fraud for a significant period of time while doing a lot of good work in the community. I must juggle those points with a lack of previous convictions, and I am satisfied that I do not have to impose a immediate sentence of imprisonment.”

No mitigation was given Broad’s behalf at the hearing. She wept as she was given 12 months jail, suspended for two years, and was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work. She will face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing later, in which she could be forced to sell assets to compensate the community.

Source with pictures

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