A MOTHER-OF-FOUR cheated the public purse out of £12,535 after shacking up with a man who was living in her garden shed — and having three children with him.
Emma Thompson, of Craven Street, Horninglow, appeared at Burton Magistrates’ Court to admit committing benefit fraud between August 2010 and November 2011.
The 24-year-old was wrongly claiming housing and council tax benefits from East Staffordshire Borough Council and income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Magistrates heard how Thompson was making claims for herself and for her children, saying that she was a single parent and had no income whatsoever.
However, the defendant had actually been living with Karl Jones, who she started a relationship with after he moved out of her garden shed and into her home.
The prosecutor, also named Emma Thompson, said: “The defendant failed to notify the authorities that Mr Jones was living with her, that he was working and contributing towards the house and the children.
“She knew that she should have told them that her circumstances had changed; she admitted it to the
police after she had been arrested.”
Simon Dean, defending, told the hearing his client had already started to pay some of the money back.
He said: “Thompson invited Mr Jones to live with her after he had been sleeping in her shed. He said it wasn’t suitable accommodation, and after moving in their relationship kindled. They have three children together and she has another child with someone else.
“He was working and the wages went into her bank account but he always took it out straight away.
“She’s now paying the benefits money back out of her benefits at a rate of £189 per fortnight, but it only leaves her and her four children with £2 or £3 a week to live on.”
Magistrates debated whether or not to impose a jail sentence on the defendant.
However, she was given one last chance to sort her life and finances out.
She was handed an 18-month community order and told to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, which would have been 300 if not for her guilty plea.
Thompson was also told to pay £85 in costs at a rate of £2 a week.