Mansfield benefit fraud woman jailed

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A WOMAN who fraudulently overclaimed on her benefits by almost £10,000 has been put behind bars.

Julie Ann Rhodes-Price, of Stanley Road, Mansfield, was charged with two counts of making false statements to obtain payment, dating back as far as March 2009.

The 48-year-old admitted she had falsely overclaimed on employment and support allowance and disability living allowance totalling £9,953.

Mansfield Magistrates’ Court was told that Rhodes-Price had suffered from back problems, that she was receiving pain-relief injections for the problem and that an operation was pending.

She even needed a crutch to enter the courtroom.

In mitigation, Andrew Bostock said: “She knows the gravity and seriousness of the offences, she knows she has let the family down and herself down.

“The risk of her re-offending is very low and it’s been such a sobering experience she will never put herself in this position again.”

However, it was heard that she had been caught out making fraudulent claims before.

District Judge Diane Baker said: “I’m giving you full credit for a guilty plea, but this was deliberate false representation over a long period of time, you took money from the public purse.

“£9,000 - that’s a large amount over a long period of time.

“It’s not the first time you have done it. In 2002 you did exactly the same and you took nearly £6,500 from the public purse.

“You deliberately mislead people because you think you are going to get away with it, but the time has come for you to learn.”

Members of her family wept in the public gallery as the judge jailed her for four months and she was led away in handcuffs.

Following the sentence, a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Benefit thieves are costing the taxpayer almost £1 billion per year.

“This money is intended to help those most in need not line the pockets of criminals.

“We will continue to tackle this problem at the frontline but also at the root by reforming the benefits system to make it less open to abuse.”