Suspended prison term for pensioner who committed £17,000-plus benefit fraud while working as a carer

Lincoln Crown Court
Lincoln Crown Court

A Sleaford pensioner has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting a £17,000 benefit fraud.

Janet Locke, 71, of Sandhurst Crescent, claimed pension credit and Council Tax benefit while she continued to work as a carer.

Chris Lowe, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court on Thursday that Locke was earning up to £500 a week from her job which meant she was not entitled to benefits.

However, she concealed her job from the Department for Work and Pensions for seven years before finally being caught out.

Mr Lowe said Locke was subsequently interviewed by staff at North Kesteven District Council and confessed to what she had done.

She illegally claimed a total of £13,136 on pension credit and £4,533 in Council Tax benefit - in all, £17,669.

Locke admitted failing to declare a change of circumstance between August 2005 and April 2012.

She was given an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder Martin Jackson said: “Benefits are there for people who need them. This is a case which is aggravated by the fact that your fraudulent behaviour extended over seven years.

“You carried on claiming benefits at a time when you didn’t need them.”

Sunil Khanna, defending, said that Locke had relied on her husband to deal with their finances and when he passed away she faced large debts for work carried out to their home and she could not cope.

He said: “She is desperately sorry. She is 71 years of age and has no previous convictions.”

He said that Locke worked on a casual basis and her income varied from week to week. She has since been repaying the Council Tax benefit overpayment and soon expects to have cleared the outstanding amount.