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Woman who falsely claimed £16,000 in benefits spared jail

Llandrindod Wells | Crime | Published:

A woman has been spared jail despite falsely claiming more than £16,000 in benefits.

Wendy Petherick, who cares for her son who has special needs, had been claiming income support and carers allowance since 2013.

But in 2015 she started working as a carer but failed to tell the Department for Works and Pensions that her situation had changed.

The 60-year-old, of Aeclea, Yew Tree Close in Crossgates, Llandrindod Wells, admitted a charge of dishonestly failing to notify the DWP about a change in circumstances affecting her claim for income support between September 20 2015 and January 2 this year when she appeared at Llandrindod Wells Magistrates Court. She also admitted a similar charge in regard to claiming carer’s allowance between September 20 2015 and February 3 this year.

Mr Stephen Davies, prosecuting, said Petherick had over-claimed a total of £16,779.70. He said she began claiming in 2013 as she was solely providing care for her child and was not able to work. Mr Davies said she had to sign a declaration for the benefits, agreeing that the information was correct and she was told that any changes to her circumstances had to be reported.

In August 2016 she was seen by a work coach and was given information and an action plan was put in place to help her to get into work.

Remorseful

But she was already working at a care company, having started in September 2015 – but she had not informed the DWP.

In July 2018 she went to work at a garden centre. When she was caught she said was aware that she had to tell the DWP about changes in her situation and she accepted that she had not done so. She said she just got frightened.

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Delivering a pre-sentence report, Mr Andy Pearson from the Probation Service said Petherick lives with her son Dale and he is her life. The 16 year-old has special needs and has Dyspraxia and a growth condition. He said Petherick cooks and cleans for him and takes him to a voluntary job on a Tuesday for a couple of hours.

Mr Pearson said Petherick currently works three days a week and she has started paying back the benefits at £40 a month. He said Petherick is fine physically but suffers with her nerves, anxiety and an under active thyroid and is remorseful and nervous of being in court.

Mr Owain Jones, for Petherick, said it was not a fraudulent claim from the outset, she was a lady of previous good character, she is remorseful and had co-operated fully with the investigation.

Magistrates placed her on a community order for 12 months with two requirements of 20 rehabilitation requirement sessions and 200 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay £85 surcharge and £85 costs.

By Karen Compton

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