08:00 Thursday 05 December 2013

£27k fraudster avoids jail term after guilty plea

Written byMARK MCKAY

A BENEFITS cheat who must now pay back almost £27,000 has avoided receiving a jail sentence.

Selina Winson’s 18-month jail term has been suspended for a year after she pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to notify the authorities of a change of circumstances between May 1, 2010, and May 30, 2012.

During that time Miss Winson, 43, of Hunter Street, Burton incorrectly received £10,365 in Income Support, £2,756 in Employment Support Allowance and £13,813 in Housing Benefit - a total £26,935.

She had failed to tell East Staffordshire Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that Christopher Baugh had moved in with her.

Andrew Bodger, prosecuting, told the court it was a condition of Winson’s benefits that she notified the authorities when Mr Baugh came to live with her in May 2010.

Mr Bodger said: “From then until November 2012 she was paid the benefit rate for someone single, living alone and unable to work.”

Winson admitted Mr Baugh had moved in as a lodger when she was first interviewed under caution in 2012.

Neil O’Driscoll, defending, said his client now faced the prospect of paying back ‘a substantial amount of money’.

He said: “People think that people who defraud the public purse live a life of luxury but that is not the case with my client.

“She is in financial difficulty but she has go out and work because she has no other option.

“She acknowledges and accepted her guilt and said this gentleman did live with her for two and a half years.

“She did not need any financial assistance from him moving in but she should have notified the authorities.”

Mr O’Driscoll said Winson now earned between £200 and £250 a week in a permanent full-time job.

Presiding magistrate Amir Kabal also ordered Winson to pay £180 in court costs and charges.

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