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£90,000 Northfleet benefit swindler escapes jail

PUBLISHED: 17:14 28 March 2011

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A 44-year-old woman has been given a suspended prison sentence after getting nearly £90,000 in benefits she was not entitled to.

Miss Joanne Shell, of New House Lane, Northfleet, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday for three counts of benefit fraud.

At an earlier hearing she had admitted dishonestly obtaining money transfers by deception.

Mr Recorder Joshua Swirsky sentenced Miss Shell to 10 months imprisonment suspended for two years, with a two year supervision order and 160 hour unpaid community order.

He said to her: “The amounts obtained were high by anyone’s standards.

“You claim this is because of the nature of your relationship with [your partner], but I accept that any imprisonment would have a serious effect on your family.”

She had a partner living with her for five-and-a-half years while she was receiving benefits as a lone parent.

In total Miss Shell received £88,117.02 from housing benefit, council tax benefits and income support from Gravesham Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The court was told she is repaying the money.

Do you know a benefit cheat? Contact Gravesham Borough Council between 8am to 5pm on 01474 337231 or leave a message on its 24hr voicemail on 01474 337400.

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