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Conditional discharge for woman, 22, who falsely claimed £2k in benefits

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 05, 2014

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A YOUNG Burton woman has received a conditional discharge after she admitted falsely claiming more than £2,000 in benefits.

Magistrates went outside their sentencing guidelines after they heard Talia Smith wrongly claimed £2,752 in Jobseeker’s Allowance last June.

The 22-year-old, of Belvedere Road, lodged the claim on June 22, after being told she was no longer needed in her job at Brookhouse Hotel, in Station Road, Rolleston.

But Smith had also found irregular work for as a kitchen assistant, which she did not disclose in her claim because no contract had been signed, her defence solicitor Suhki Ark said.

He told the court: “Having worked for just two days she confirmed she had no full-time employment.

“The employment was sporadic, sometimes it would be four hours a week.

“She was told they would contact her if they could offer her more employment.”

Burton Magistrates’ Court was also told Smith, who is dyslexic, believed she did not have to tell the Department For Work and Pensions about her job after taking advice from colleagues.

Mr Ark said: “She also spoke to the staff who told her she was entitled to claim the benefit.

“Nothing was explained to her by the benefit agency.”

Smith, who now travels to Derby twice a week to work for eight hours, is now too ‘frightened’ to lodge another benefit claim, her solicitor added.

Mr Ark said: “I have told her she is entitled to claim benefits but she is now so frightened she will not claim.”

Presiding magistrate Chris Buntain told Smith she could face further punishment if she committed another crime in the next six months.

Smith must also pay £100 in court costs and a victim surcharge.

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