Scottish Daily Mail

Mum of 6 stole £100k benefits

Sheriff condemns her greed as she’s locked up

- By Gordon Smith

A FRAUDSTER who claimed more than £100,000 during a sixyear benefits scam was jailed yesterday.

Nicola Ann Sheddon, 43, pretended to be a single mother of six.

She also claimed thousands of pounds a year in income support and council tax relief on two properties in Edinburgh and Fife.

Following an anonymous tip-off, an investigat­ion found she lived with a partner who contribute­d financiall­y to the household.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheddon was jailed for 16 months.

Sheriff Michael O’Grady, QC, told her: ‘You will understand this is a very serious matter. The deceit may have been a simple one but the sums are enormous – and that deceit was practised for years.

‘It seems to be thought in some quarters that crimes like these are victimless, that no one is hurt, that it is really just an accounting exercise.

‘It is not. Far from it. Hardworkin­g people pay taxes to provide hospitals, pensions and benefits – and they struggle, at least in part, because of people like you.’

At a previous hearing, Sheddon, of Cardenden, Fife, admitted obtaining by fraud £61,544.41 from the Department of Work and Pensions between 2008 and 2014.

She also pleaded guilty to obtaining £12,636.26 by fraud from the City of Edinburgh Council between 2008 and 2009; and fraudulent­ly receiving £28,509.67 from Fife Council between 2010 and 2014.

That adds up to a total of £102,690.34.

Sheriff O’Grady, who had deferred sentence for a report, said he was reducing the tariff from two years due to her early guilty plea.

Defence solicitor Gayle Addison had said her client was ‘extremely ashamed and extremely regretful’.

She added that Sheddon had not used the money for high living or expensive holidays but to care for her six children. The court heard she had repaid between just £2,500 and £3,000.

Miss Addison told Sheriff O’Grady that Sheddon’s 19-year old daughter Jamie Leigh, who was in court, would have to give up her job to look after her younger sisters if her mother was jailed.

When Sheddon was sentenced, both she and her daughter burst into tears.

Afterwards, Miss Sheddon said: ‘My mum is a single mum with six bairns. She’s obviously got to do something to look after them. She knows she’s in the wrong, but everybody does it. There’s loads of people doing it but they’re getting away with it. People get caught for much worse and get away with it.’

The case comes only weeks after Audit Scotland figures revealed that, through fraud and error, £16.8million was paid in 2014-15 to people not entitled to the money.

 ??  ?? Guilty: Nicola Ann Sheddon
Guilty: Nicola Ann Sheddon

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