Benefits cheat’s legs too swollen for curfew tag
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.