A MUM-OF-THREE who has a conviction for benefit fraud has been told to pay off the council tax she owes or face prison.
Karen Parker owes £4,774 to Havant Borough Council for five years worth of unpaid council tax.
Now she must pay the money off at a rate of £200 a month or she could go to jail.
The 52-year-old was found to be in ‘culpable neglect’ of paying the tax when she appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
Parker, whose husband is a self-employed builder, said she had not been able to afford to pay the tax between 2004 and 2006 and 2009 and March this year.
Representing herself in court she said: ‘It’s all very regrettable now.’
Parker, of St Alban’s Road, Havant, must make her first payment by the end of August.
The action by Havant Borough Council to reclaim the money she owes comes after Parker was convicted of benefit fraud at Portsmouth Crown Court in 2010.
She claimed more than £10,000 in a benefits scam – despite sitting on a large inheritance.
She took the money in job seekers’ allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
She filled in forms claiming she had no money, knowing that anyone who has more than £8,000 in savings is not entitled to benefits.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard she had claimed benefits between April 2003 and July 2009 but had inherited money from her mother, who died of leukaemia, in 2006.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances, one of making a false representation and one of obtaining money by deception.
Parker was given a 32-week prison sentence suspended for two years and put on a four-month curfew.