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Benefits cheat mum who claimed over £78k jailed for 10 months
A MUM-of-three wept as she was exposed as a benefits cheat in court.
Tracy McLaughlin, of Walditch Gardens, Canford Heath, claimed £78,960.95 she was not entitled to over the course of five-and-a-half-years.
The 34-year-old, who faced a charge of making a false statement to obtain benefit and two of failing to notify officials of a change in her circumstances, was jailed for 10 months for her deception.
Although she had legit-imately started receiving benefits 10 years ago after the breakdown of her marriage, in 2006 she began living with a partner and would have lost a large sum of money given in council tax and housing benefit support if she had declared a change of circumstance.
Kevin Hill, defending, said: “She accepts that she knew deep down she should have made a declaration to the authorities.
“She didn’t and explains that she didn’t do so because she was des-perately insecure within her relationship.”
He added: “Her remorse is extremely evident.”
However, Judge John Harrow said the benefits system largely relies on the “honest and integrity” of claimants.
“You persisted in this for a very long time and accumulated nearly £80,000 in benefits to which you were not entitled,” he said.
“The seriousness of the situation is so great that it is impossible to avoid imposing an immediate custodial sentence.”
McLaughlin, who told probation officers she feared her family would be “torn apart” if she was imprisoned, sobbed in shock as she was led away.
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