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Mother-of-two jailed for £65,000 benefits fraud

PUBLISHED: 09:53 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:30 23 August 2010

A MOTHER-OF-TWO has been jailed for a year after she fraudulently claimed £65,000 in benefits. Cheryl Edwards, 36, of Green Street Green Road, Dartford, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court last Friday. Mrs Edwards, formerly of Albion Road, Gravesend, ple

A MOTHER-OF-TWO has been jailed for a year after she fraudulently claimed £65,000 in benefits.

Cheryl Edwards, 36, of Green Street Green Road, Dartford, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court last Friday.

Mrs Edwards, formerly of Albion Road, Gravesend, pleaded guilty to seven counts of dishonestly making false representatives in order to claim benefits illegally from Gravesham Borough Council and the Department of Work and Pensions.

She falsely claimed a total of £65,000 in income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit between July 2002 and July 2007.

Judge Charles Macdonald said: "The offending was persistent, deliberately dishonest and a large sum of money.

"It is clear that this is so serious that there is no alternative to imprisonment. The shortest sentence I can pass is 12 months."

The court heard that Mrs Edwards suffers with physical disabilities caused by a stroke while in the womb.

She also suffered post natal depression after the birth of her son in 1997, when she first started claiming benefits.

Alex Munro, prosecuting, said that Mrs Edwards failed to notify Gravesham Borough Council and the Department of Work and Pensions that from 2002 she was living with her husband, who was on an income, and told them she was a lone parent.

Adrian Warburton, cabinet member for Revenues and Benefits at Gravesham Borough Council, said, "The verdict of this court sends out a clear message that benefit cheats will be caught.

"Public funds are in place to support our residents who legitimately need financial help, not for putting in criminals pockets. This is even more important given today's financial climate as people might think that it is a risk worth taking, it is not."

Government officials first started investigating Edwards when she was flagged up by their computers for making a joint claim for tax credits, stating she was married, but also stating she was single for others.

They compiled evidence against Edwards through the electoral roll, school records and her husband's employers.

Mrs Edwards was told she would serve nine months in custody and the remainder of her sentence on licence.

ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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