Woman escapes jail after £21,000 Darlington benefit fraud

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A WOMAN received more than £21,000 in benefits that she was not entitled to after her estranged husband moved back in.

Beverley Aldworth, 46, of Barningham Street, in Darlington, received the money between May 17, 2010 and April 6, 2012.

Initially she lived alone and her claims for Government help were legal. Then her estranged husband moved back into the family home.

Mr Aldworth began to contribute to the household’s income, but the defendant failed to notify the benefits agency of the change.

Included in the sums received was £9,070.40 of income support, £8,404.59 of housing benefit and £3,455.21 of employment and support allowance.

Prosecutor Rachael Dodsworth told magistrates in Newton Aycliffe that the money had been paid by Darlington Borough Council.

She said that Aldworth claimed 147 weeks of benefits illegally after failing to state her change in circumstance.

The court heard that Aldworth had repaid some of the cash.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of a change in circumstances affecting payment.

She also pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefit.

Gwen Burnett, mitigating, said: “Aldworth’s marriage broke down in 2004 but (her estranged husband) was a regular visitor to the house.

“The husband paid the gas, electric and TV bills and Aldworth should have advised the DWP. She has severe depression, but she accepts responsibility for the position she is in.”

Magistrates imposed a six-week jail sentence which they suspended for a year. Aldworth will also pay £100 in court costs.

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