A BENEFIT fraudster who cheated the taxpayer out of more than £30,000 has been spared jail.
Mum-of-two Jacqueline Blake raked in the cash in a three-year period by submitting fraudulent claims to the Department for Work and Pensions and Fareham Borough Council.
The 47-year-old’s web of lies started when she filled in a false income support claim stating she was a lone parent with two dependent children and only one bank account.
Investigations later revealed she also shared a joint bank account with her husband.
Although the pair were separated, cash from the account was used to pay the mortgage at their home in Coral Close, Portchester, where she lived, and other household bills.
Blake later returned review forms falsely declaring her circumstances had not changed, that she was not in work and held no other bank accounts.
Then she made false claims to Fareham Borough Council to receive council tax benefit.
Disabled Blake, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and fibromyalgia, a chronic condition which causes muscle pain and fatigue, claimed £30,022.95 between 2007 and 2010 when an investigation led to her arrest.
Hannah Smith, defending, said: ‘Clearly, this is a woman who’s never done anything like this before. She’s so devastated by her own actions that she didn’t leave the house for four months.’
She added: ‘It isn’t the situation where somebody is using public funds to spend on a lavish lifestyle of high living, it was simply to pay bills, things of that nature.’
Blake admitted three counts of fraud and four counts of failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances.
She was sentenced to 10 months in jail suspended for two years and put under supervision for a year at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Blake, who has no previous convictions, has already repaid the £3,880.36 council tax benefit and is paying back the remaining £26,142.59 she claimed in income support.
Recorder Nigel Lickley QC, sentencing, said: ‘You are now said to be full of remorse and concern for what you have done.
‘But I don’t suppose you thought about that very much over the period of time when you received all of those benefits to which you weren’t entitled.’