A MOTHER who admitted a £49,000 benefits scam has escaped immediate imprisonment.
Wendy Dodman, 48, of Hill Street, Pentre Broughton, admitted three charges of fraud, claiming benefits when failing to notify that she had a partner living with her.
Mold Crown Court heard that it was accepted that her claim for the majority of the benefits had been genuine to start with.
Her partner Gary Jones was said to be earning more than £30,000 a year – and in 2011-12 earned £43,000 – but Dodman, a mother of eight-year-old twins, continued to claim as a lone parent.
But they had separated for a short period when she first started to claim.
Dodman received an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to carry out 250 hours’ unpaid work.
Judge Niclas Parry said that over a period of six years she had committed “repeated fraud upon the public”.
He said that it was the public who lost out in such offences.
It had been deliberate fraud, on her own admission it had been done in the full knowledge that she was receiving money to which she was not entitled.
She had submitted seven claim forms – each time deliberately lying.
“This type of offending costs the public literally millions and millions of pounds,” he said.
Such offences were difficult to detect as benefit claims depended on trust and honesty, he said.
But she would have the maximum credit for pleading guilty at an early stage.
Mr Parry said that he could not ignore the fact that she was the mother of eight-year-old twins.
“I must bear in mind the effect of any sentence on innocent dependents,” he said.
Matthew Dunford, prosecuting, said that the total loss was £48,694 after she claimed benefits as a single parent.
But she had a partner who had been working throughout.
While the main charge was genuine to start with, other smaller claims were not.
Maria Massellis, defending, said she would not mitigate when the judge indicated the sentence that he had in mind.