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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Dalton benefits cheat must do community work

A BENEFITS cheat who claimed more than £18,000 she wasn’t entitled to has escaped a jail sentence.

Karen Mullan, 44, of Coronation Drive, Dalton, posed as a single mother in order to receive £18,213 in state handouts over a two-year period.

The mother-of-three failed to notify authorities that she was living with her husband, who was employed full-time at BAE Systems.

Mullan avoided prison and instead was ordered to do 70 hours of unpaid work in the community at Furness Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

She had pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances affecting entitlement to benefits.

Mrs Pam Ward, prosecuting, said the deception took place between February 2011 and February 2013.

Mrs Ward said: “Mrs Mullan was required to notify the Department of Work and Pensions and Barrow Borough Council of any changes that might affect her benefits. She failed to do so.

“During police interview, she initially denied living with Mr Mullan, but later admitted they had been living together for two years.”

Mullan claimed £7,284 in income support, £9,327 in housing benefit and £1,602 in council tax allowances, which she was not entitled to due to her husband’s household income.

Mullan was placed under surveillance in December 2012 and February 2013, and her husband’s bank account was found to be registered to her address.

District judge Gerald Chalk ordered Mullan to do 70 hours of unpaid work and for her to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.

He said: “You may have slipped into offending by mistake initially, but I am sure that at some stage you were aware that you were wrongly getting money.

“This is public money, this kind of crime is what people get very upset about.

“Clearly that money will be taken off from you in due course, but I think you need to be punished within the community.”

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