Thu, 23 Jun 2011
A MUM-OF-FIVE who cheated the benefit system out of more than £23,000 has avoided prison.
Unemployed Claire Colley failed to declare she was living with partner Richard Callaghan between April 2006 and May 2009.
Claire Colley failed to declare she was living with her partner
She unlawfully claimed £13,582.67 of income support and a further £10,058.82 in housing benefit.
Yesterday she was handed a nine week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and 180 hours of unpaid work.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard the 30-year-old received £267 each week in child support and a total of £220 every fortnight in jobseekers allowance taking her annual income to more than £19,500.
Colley was charged on two counts of failing to notify a change her circumstances while in receipt of benefits, after her partner moved into her home in Meaford Drive, Blurton.
Colley first received income support in June 1998 as a lone parent and in December 2003 she began to claim housing benefit and council tax allowance.
Prosecuting, Neil Chawla, said: "Both claims were genuine from the outset, however, on April 1 2006 she began living with her partner, Richard Callaghan, at her home address.
"In December 2006 Mr Callaghan gave her address for a court matter and in early 2007 he gave her address for employment purposes.
"In late 2008 he again gave her address for a finance application.
"There was a great deal of evidence he was living at that address."