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Telford benefits cheat who swindled nearly £25,000 avoids jail

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Crime | Published:

A benefits cheat from Telford who swindled almost £25,000 out of the system has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Pensioner Jennifer Baker fraudulently claimed a number of benefits during 2012 and 2013, Telford Magistrates Court heard.

The court was told she failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions and Telford & Wrekin Council of a change in circumstances which would have effected her entitlement to claim income support, housing and council tax benefits.

The 66-year-old, of Burtondale, Brookside, failed to declare she had been living with her husband.

She also dishonestly made a statement to the Department for Work and Pensions in order to claim pension credit, the court heard.

Baker pleaded guilty to four charges of benefit fraud during her court appearance on Thursday.

Ms Abigail Hall, prosecuting, said Baker started claiming benefits in 2008 based on the fact that she was unfit for work.

She told the court that Baker had signed a declaration that she had provided a true and accurate account of her circumstances and she would notify the authorities if her circumstances changed.

An investigation was launched after she claimed pension credit in 2013 and evidence emerged that a man had been registered as living at her address since 2012.

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Baker was interviewed by the authorities as a result of the findings.

Ms Hall said Baker confirmed a man had been living with her since 2012 but prior to that he had only been staying with her at weekends.

Ms Hall said: "She stated she was trying to clear debts that her son had left her."

She told magistrates that Baker, who had no previous convictions, had falsely claimed more than £24,990.

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Mr Mike Freeman, representing Baker, said her claims for benefits had started out legitimately.

He told the court that her son had built up quite a lot of debt and she was trying to pay it off.

Mr Freeman asked magistrates to give her full credit for her guilty plea at the first opportunity and said that she had expressed remorse.

The court heard Baker had recently had an operation for lung cancer and was in remission.

Magistrates were also told that she had started to pay back the money she had fraudulently claimed.

Baker was handed a two-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to pay £185 costs and £115 victim surcharge within 14 days.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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