Fraudster who claimed benefits avoids prison

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FAILING to declare savings while claiming benefits almost landed a woman in jail.

Darleen Gaffney, 32, told Chichester District Council that she was claiming benefit because she was on a low household income and had no savings.

But council officers found she in fact had £75,000 in her bank account and had also been working while claiming £18,281.32 in housing benefit and £2,211.91 in council tax benefit. Gaffney, of Caernarvon Road, Chichester, admitted three charges of dishonestly failing to promptly notify a change of circumstances that she knew would affect her benefit claims.

Magistrates sentenced her to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered her to do 200 hours of community work. They also ordered her to pay a victim surcharge of £65 and costs of £85.