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Grandma jailed for benefit fraud
A GRANDMOTHER who wrongfully claimed more than £86,000 in benefits has been jailed for six months.
Melanie Holmes, 58, claimed about £100,000 from 2001 to 2011, when she told the Department of Work and Pensions she lived alone.
But she lived with her husband and was only entitled to about £12,000 over the ten-year period, based on their joint income.
Holmes, of Cedars View, East Tytherley, pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court on Friday.
She was convicted of similar offences in 2000 and handed an 18-month conditional discharge, which came to an end shortly before she began fraudulently claiming again.
Rufus Taylor, defending, urged Judge Guy Boney to suspend a prison sentence due to the impact it would have on her sons and her five-year-old granddaughter.
But Judge Boney said: “I understand really clearly the difficulties your family face and the fact that the sentence I have to pass upon you will bear hard on them as well as you.
“The fact of the matter is that if the public see that somebody can defraud the benefit system of a sum approaching £100,000 without there being an immediate prison sentence, the effect on public morale or the public generally would be extremely undesirable. It would encourage people to think they can get away with it.”
Holmes was sentenced to six months in prison for each charge, to run concurrently.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “When people receive benefits from us they enter into a contract to tell us of any change in their circumstances. Deliberately not doing so is a crime and takes valuable funds from those who need them the most.”