A HUSBAND-and-wife benefit cheat couple from Ringwood who enjoyed lavish holidays and spending sprees were lucky not to have got longer jail sentences, an MP has claimed.

“Shopaholic” Nicola Rogers was sentenced to 14 months in prison, while her husband Bryan received nine months for a six-year fraud which between them netted a total of almost £69,000.

The couple, of Poplar Way, initially claimed benefits legally but then continued to claim while 48-year-old Mr Rogers was working for three family-owned companies, splashing out on luxury holidays, a Range Rover, scuba diving gear and lavish parties.

Desmond Swayne, the MP for New Forest West, said: “My gut view is that cheating on benefits is a serious matter and that message needs to be sent through the sentencing system.

“There’s nothing more infuriating for people who are working hard themselves and are up against it, having to pay their bills, having to struggle, than seeing other people cheat the system.

“It’s only right that it should have been a custodial sentence, preferably a longer one.”

Passing sentence on Mr and Mrs Rogers, Judge John Harrow said: “In my judgement, this was deliberate, calculated, prolonged dishonesty.”

He added their spending, in particular Mrs Rogers’, had been “reckless and unnecessary”.