A CARE worker from who fraudulently claimed over £36,000 in state benefits has been jailed for five months.
Mother-of-two Rachel Wharton lied from the outset to get single-parent handouts when she and common law husband David Newbould were living together.
She falsely stated that they had separated just before she started to claim income support in September 2008, Stafford Crown Court heard.
Miss Joanne Barker, prosecuting, said the fraud went on for just under four years until she was quizzed in September last year, when she initially denied co-habiting.
Wharton, aged 28, of Jennings Way, Burton admitted three charges of making false representations.
Judge Paul Glenn told her: “People who need the money are unable to access funds because of benefit cheats like you.”
Miss Barker said Wharton would not have been entitled to any of the benefits she claimed – £12,000 income support and just under £25,000 in Housing and Council Tax benefit.
When first questioned, she denied any wrong-doing but the evidence against her was ‘overwhelming’.
She eventually admitted the fraud. She said she had been unable to cope following the birth of her second child, but maintained she had not been ‘greedy’, spending the money on everyday items.
Steve Hennessy, defending, said Wharton was a community care worker, visiting homes of people who need assistance and now did voluntary work.
“She is ordinarily a caring, hard working mother of two children. She stopped her fraudulent claims in May 2012.
“She was under investigation at that time, but she was not aware of that – the cessation was entirely voluntary.”
The couple had bought a car for £4,000, but had been involved in a legal wrangle with the dealer that had incurred costs of up to £15,000.
Since being charged she had been repaying the debt at £75 a week, but Judge Glenn said that even at that rate, it would take her 10 years to pay it off.