In court for £10k of ben­e­fit fraud

Wo­man claimed PIP for back in­jury af­ter re­cov­ery

Sunday Sun - - News - IAN JOHN­SON Re­porter ian.john­[email protected]­

A BEN­E­FIT cheat who il­le­gally claimed more than £10,000 while work­ing at a care home broke down in tears as she was sen­tenced.

Jodie Wat­son claimed she had a bad back and re­quired med­i­cal treatment, a court heard.

The 31-year-old ini­tially made a le­git­i­mate Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ment claim, cit­ing med­i­ca­tion for a pro­lapsed disc.

The ben­e­fit can be claimed by peo­ple in work.

But due to the scor­ing sys­tem, Wat­son’s so­lic­i­tor ad­mit­ted: “She prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been en­ti­tled to it at the time that she re­turned to work.”

Wat­son was charged af­ter a De­part­ment of Work and Pen­sions in­ves­ti­ga­tor re­ceived a tip-off about her sit­u­a­tion. At North Ty­ne­side Mag­is­trates’ Court, she pleaded guilty to dis­hon­estly fail­ing to no­tify about a change in cir­cum­stances.

The court heard she claimed the cash over a 17-month pe­riod be­tween 2016 and 2017.

The pros­e­cu­tor said: “She was aware she must in­form of any changes about her cir­cum­stances”, adding Wat­son took a “sig­nif­i­cant” sum.

How­ever, her so­lic­i­tor ar­gued that in the con­text of ben­e­fit fraud, the amount “wasn’t ex­ces­sive”.

“This is a case which is a lit­tle bit un­for­tu­nate,” he added.

“The de­fen­dant in this case made a le­git­i­mate claim ini­tially.”

The court heard Wat­son now has “much bet­ter move­ment and con­trol” than at the time of her claim af­ter tak­ing med­i­ca­tion.

Wat­son, of Mid­moor Road, Sun­der­land, wept through­out the hear­ing as mag­is­trates warned her that she faced up to 36 weeks in prison.

But af­ter hear­ing she was “re­morse­ful” for her ac­tions, the bench in­stead or­dered her to carry out 200 hours of un­paid work.

Chair of the bench Gor­don Wan­less said: “It is the pub­lic purse that you de­frauded.”

■ Jodie Wat­son, 31, leaves North Ty­ne­side Mag­is­trates’ Court

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