Gosport fraudster admits falsely claiming £100,000 benefits

Chief Inspector Sharon Woolrich

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A GRANDMOTHER who fraudulently claimed £100,000 in benefits tried to imply that her partner was gay to throw off investigators.

Jean Miller, of Napier Close in Gosport, was caught out after nine years of claiming that she lived alone so she could carry on obtaining housing and council tax benefits. But she had been living with her partner Martin Watson from 2002 until her arrest in November 2011.

The 51-year-old admitted two counts of failing to notify the authorities of a change that would affect her entitlement to benefit as well as one count of dishonestly making a representation to a local authority and one of being knowingly involved in a fraudulent activity by failing to declare she was living with Mr Watson.

At Miller’s sentencing hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court, prosecutor Richard Donan said: ‘When she was arrested, Ms Miller was interviewed about the matter on two occasions.

‘On the first occasion she effectively denied living with Mr Watson, saying that they were platonic friends and he wasn’t that way inclined anyway, to put the crown off the scent.’

It was only during the second interview when she was presented with more evidence that she admitted the fraud.

Daniel Reilly, defending, said that Miller had previously been of good character and is the carer for her two grandchildren, one of whom has autism, as her daughter was a drug addict.

In recent years she has been effectively caring for her daughter, who is now suffering from serious renal failure and is on methadone.

He added: ‘She is truly remorseful.’

Addressing Miller, Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘You obtained a considerable amount of money, approximately £100,000.

‘Cheating the public purse strikes the heart of the benefits system because public trust is diminished as people are concerned that benefits are going to people who don’t deserve them.

‘It is so serious that only a custodial sentence is justified.

‘But you are a carer for your grandchildren and your daughter, who has significant health problems, and because of that I will suspend the sentence.’

He sentenced her to 34 weeks for each charge, to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months and she must pay £200 costs.

She has already been repaying the benefits at £350 a month since 2011.