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Benefit con netted £45k

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

Comments (12)

A BENEFITS cheat who stole £45,000 of public money has been spared prison — because of the effect a jail sentence would have on her children.

Mother of three Emma Horner, 31, of Balfour Street, Horninglow, spent five years claiming single parent benefits despite being married.

Her lies came to light when the authorities discovered a joint bank account she shared with husband Michael.

Judge John Maxwell told her: “It’s plain this was dishonest from the beginning. You pretended that you were a single woman, but the truth is you did have a husband. You married him a few days after these claims started.

“For you to go to prison would have a devastating effect on the children.”

Instead the judge imposed an 11-month suspended prison term.

Stafford Crown Court heard Horner made claims for income support, housing benefits and council tax benefits.

The claims began in August 2006 when she stated she was a single woman expecting a child and had no income. Just over a week later, she got married.

Laura Hobson, prosecuting, said the false benefit claims went on for nearly five years and involved a total of £45,183.

Horner admitted four charges of benefit fraud — making false representations to obtain money.

Miss Hobson said evidence came to light that the defendant and her husband were living together.

They had a joint bank account into which his wages and her benefits were paid. Mr Horner was registered at the same address as his wife.

When questioned, Horner denied that the couple were living together and said the marriage was a ‘sham’.

Nick Smith, defending, said Horner now accepted the seriousness of the offence. “She is thoroughly ashamed of what she had done,” he said.

Mr Smith said Horner’s husband was away a lot as a long-distance lorry driver and she felt under pressure.

There was a background of drugs which reared its head from time to time and she recently tested positive for crack cocaine, Mr Smith said.

Along with the suspended jail sentence, the judge also made Horner subject to a drug treatment and testing order.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 17 2013, 9:20PM

    Bring back corporal punishment, thieving is a crime; 6 strokes of the birch man or woman they won't do it again!

  • Burton Mail  |  January 14 2013, 11:22AM

    Are the happy couple paying back the £45k?

  • Burton Mail  |  January 12 2013, 5:19PM

    The children would be better off without a mother like her in their lives and she should be locked up!!!!

  • Burton Mail  |  January 11 2013, 4:41PM

    Maybe it's just my computer, but why is this article listed in the 'most comments' box when there aren't any? Oh well, I'll get the ball rolling. No doubt the nicotine-stained masses will come out with the usual comments about benefit claimants being idle, scroungers, frauds etc., and how they should all get a job. Would for a world where people formed their own opinions rather than parroting those of the red tops..

  • Burton Mail  |  January 11 2013, 9:02AM

    She knew what she was doing and obviously not stupid. She knew dam well she would not be sent down cos our judges are so thick and easily sucked in. She marries 3 days later!She knew she wouldn't be sent down. He could look after the kids. Men do. It would have been planned between them. Why is our country so stupid Should have sent her down! It was all arranged for her to marry after she claimed. What about the devastation it would have on the children. She should have thought about that as she knew what she was doing and knew she would just get a slap on the wrist. Anyway she should been sent down and him look after the 'devastated' children!

  • Burton Mail  |  January 10 2013, 5:31PM

    Another sob story and another soft sentence! This woman has robbed hard working tax payers and the system. Yesterday the mail reported on another fraudster who had her assets seized in order to pay back the people she stole from. This amounts to the same thing doesn't it? The justice system is a joke, but if you jail her it will still be at taxpayers expense.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 10 2013, 4:58PM

    They haven't caught me yet and I've been claiming illegally for 15 years!

  • Burton Mail  |  January 10 2013, 3:52PM

    Well done to the justice system once again. The judge has let her off for the sake of her kids???? So the judge thinks it's better for her kids to be raised by a woman who has drink and drug problems?? Am I the only person who thinks her kids deserve better? Also what message does this send to people who want to scam the system? Where's my £45,000 for free? So now her and her husband can live together safe in the knowledge nothing will come of dishonesty...Well done judge John Maxwell, I hope those children's lives aren't at risk thanks to your decision.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 10 2013, 11:45AM

    It pays to be a cheat, she is laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 10 2013, 11:16AM

    People that commit this sort of crime should be made to pay every penny back and all benefits stoped. It states that she has done drugs what effect has that had on the kids.