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Thursday, February 20, 2014
A mum-of-six who claimed more than £65,000 in cheated benefits but now lives in a trailer has been spared jail.
Sarah Waters, 37, was lent the caravan in Hainault by a friend to stay in with her partner and children after they were evicted from the family home.
Although she had claimed housing benefits, council tax breaks and income support legitimately since 1994, she failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions when her partner moved in.
Waters initially denied Terry Ramsey lived with her in Porters Avenue, Becontree, in 2008, when interviewed by police.
In December 2012 she told officers she would swear on the Bible he did not live there, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard on Thursday.
But after seeing evidence she immediately admitted the fraud and pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to disclose information affecting entitlement to benefits.
Waters had claimed £65,886 in fraudulent benefit payments, including more than £60,000 in income support, over the four years Mr Ramsey was living with her between May 2008 and December 2012.
Passing sentence, Judge Simon Wilkinson told the “teary eyed” Waters it was not a victimless crime.
He added: “We live in straightened circumstances and your fraud diverts funds from the truly needy.”
The judge said the false claims were made when the couple’s relationship was in a “turbulent period” and she was previously a person of “good character”.
He added: “It is a fact at the end of the day that you have six children, all of them with differing needs.
“I accept there appears to have been no extravagant lifestyle and you were evicted from your home and are now living in a trailer park.”
Judge Wilkinson sentenced Waters to nine months in prison but suspended the term for two years.
She must also do 250 hours of unpaid work.
A 14-year-old girl from Chigwell, who went missing almost two weeks ago, has been found, Essex Police said.