Gravesend benefit cheat escapes jail
PUBLISHED: 09:56 07 April 2011
A mother who claimed more than £24,000 in benefits she was not entitled to has escaped jail.
Mrs Lisa Seaney, 40, of St Gergory’s Crescent, Gravesend, was given a six month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to complete 240 hours of community service at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday.
The mother-of-two had been found guilty of benefit fraud at an earlier hearing, where the court heard she received £20,986 in income support and £3,281 in council tax benefit from Gravesham Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions. Seaney failed to tell them that her husband had been living with her for four years.
Mr Recorder Jeans QC said: “Plainly there is a substantial amount involved with the sentencing guidelines providing a range of 12 weeks to 18 months imprisonment.
“However, your mitigating circumstances in that this was not fraud from the outset, there was a volatile relationship with your husband as he had an affair. You have two dependant teenage children, one with aspergers, and this conviction will have a devastating affect on your life. You would also be vulnerable in prison.”
The court heard she had been claiming benefits as a single parent, was previously of good character and that the case has had a devastating affect on her.
Defending Mr Philip Sinclair said: “Since being found guilty Mrs Seaney has had two epileptic fits and been issued with anti-depressants.
“Mrs Seaney is likely to lose her job at a local school and through the confiscation hearing will put her property at risk. She has two teenage children, one with aspergers.”
Mrs Seaney has repaid the full £3,281 that she owed in council tax benefit and a proceeds of crime confiscation time table has been awarded to examine her finances to assist in the recovery of the outstanding balance.
Contact Gravesham Borough Council between 8am and 5pm on 01474 33 72 31 or leave a message on the 24hour voice mail service on 01474 33 74 00 to report benefit fraud.