Published On: Fri, Aug 23rd, 2019

Benefits cheat continued to claim hand-outs despite having £46,000 in the bank | UK | News

Sharon Slattery, 47, of Swansea, West Glamorgan, continued to accept housing and council tax benefits as well as employment support allowance despite receiving the large windfall. An investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) found heard her wealth almost tripled from £16,113.18 to £46,370.39 in less than three years.

But she failed to notify benefits agency bosses about her assets, leading to a total overpayment of £43,528.20, Swansea Crown Court was told.

James Hartson, defending, said: “Sharon Slattery worked for the NHS for 17 years and was forced to retire due to ill health from a job she was good at.

“She was held in very, very high regard from those who worked with her and employed her.

“She did not realise that it included inheritance money which she received. She did not set out to defraud.”

The court heard Slattery used the money to pay for two long-haul flights but did not fund a lavish lifestyle.

Mr Hartson she was already paying back some of the money.

He said: “She is completely mortified to find herself in the dock of crown court. It’s something she is deeply ashamed of.

“She has lost her otherwise good character. This is not someone who set out to defraud the state or the benefit system.”

READ MORE:Jailed, benefits cheat who jetted to sun to celebrate soft sentence

Slattery was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended for two years.

Judge Geraint Walters said: “There is understandable public disquiet when they hear of cases like this.

“The money available to the state to channel to the needy is limited.

“You failed to disclose inheritance, but I wonder whether you turned a blind eye to that. Most people would have asked the question.

“I’m sceptical if you are quite that dense.”

Following the sentencing, a DWP spokesman said: “Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it, in this case through a deliberate and sustained deception.

“In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, people must pay back all the money they falsely obtained.

“We have zero tolerance of anyone fraudulently claiming benefits and will take swift action to investigate, supporting our partners and prosecutors to bring them to justice – as we did in this case.”

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