Benefits cheat’s legs too swollen for cur­few tag

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Daily Tele­graph Reporter

A BENEFITS cheat was ex­cused from wear­ing an elec­tronic tag be­cause her an­kles were too swollen.

Lucy Lee, 48, was sen­tenced to a three-month cur­few that meant she could not leave her home be­tween 9pm and 5am af­ter de­fraud­ing £8,849 in state hand­outs.

Of­fend­ers on cur­few are usu­ally or­dered to wear an­kle tags, which tell mon­i­tor­ing firms if the wearer has left their home.

But Chris Hogg, de­fend­ing, told Not­ting­ham Crown Court: “She is happy to abide by a cur­few, but at­tach­ing a tag to her an­kle could be prob­lem­atic. She is suf­fer­ing from swelling of the an­kles and var­i­ous health con­di­tions.” Recorder Steven Evans said a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer was sat­is­fied Lee had “bona fide med­i­cal is­sues which af­fect her legs”.

He told Lee: “There will be a cur­few. It will not be elec­tron­i­cally mon­i­tored. But if a po­lice of­fi­cer hap­pens to call to check you are abid­ing by it and you are not, you could be re­turned to this court. It is over the Christ­mas pe­riod and you will not be go­ing out and cel­e­brat­ing the new year some­where else. You are to be at home. Do you un­der­stand?” She replied: “Yes, I do your honour.” The recorder added: “This was just over £8,000 of tax­pay­ers’ money you were not en­ti­tled to. It is a se­ri­ous mat­ter.”

Re­becca Cole­man, prose­cut­ing, said Lee made a ben­e­fit claim in March 2013, stat­ing her hus­band had no in­come. She was paid Em­ploy­ment Sup­port Al­lowance. But he had started work in Fe­bru­ary 2014 and pay­ments were made in­cor­rectly to Lee un­til Au­gust last year.

“She was in re­ceipt of ESA she was not en­ti­tled to and the over­pay­ment was £8,849,” said Ms Cole­man. Lee claimed to have phoned civil ser­vants but there was no record of this. Ms Cole­man added: “She said it had been an over­sight by her­self and she was sorry.”

Un­der the terms of the cur­few, Lee must re­main in­side her home in Bottes­ford, Notts. She ad­mit­ted fail­ing to no­tify the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions of a change of cir­cum­stances.

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