A BENEFIT cheat who claimed more than £25,000 in money she wasn’t entitled to has avoided jail because she has two children to look after.
Lynne Gallant claimed the money despite having £50,000 in the bank after she split with her husband and they sold their house.
The 43-year-old even applied for emergency benefit payments, saying she
didn’t have enough to meet her rent.
In all she received £25,651 in housing benefit, council tax benefit, income support and employment support over three years.
Gallant, of Portsmouth Road, Horndean, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud by making a false representation.
Roderick James, defending, said she had married at a young age and the relationship had become ‘difficult’.
‘He drank a lot,’ Mr James said.
‘She eventually decided she’d had enough and moved out.’
He said that apart from the money from the house Gallant’s ex did not give her any money for their two children, aged 12 and 15 and she decided to commit the fraud.
‘It was an extremely poor decision,’ he said. ‘It’s quite wrong. She is going to be punished for it and she knows she should never have done it.’
Mr James said Gallant cared for her disabled mother as well as her two children.
The court heard she had not lived an extravagant lifestyle but had used the money to stay at home with her children, rather than work.
Sentencing her at Portsmouth Crown Court Judge Susan Evans QC said: ‘In 2007 you blatantly lied in your claims saying you had only £4,000 and you got no money from the separation.
‘You compounded the problem by making claims for emergency payments, when all the time you had the money sitting in your bank account.
‘Over £25,000 you had from the state you should never have had.
‘It enabled you to live at home with your children and not work in the way that most people have to.
‘This is a fraud that was fraudulent from the outset. It took place over a significant period of time.’
But she added: ‘Your children are 12 and 15 and I have got to have them at the forefront of my mind. They did not commit this fraud, you did.’
Gallant was given a 34-week prison sentence suspended for two years and told to do 300 hours of unpaid work.