Fraudster falsely claimed £25,000 in benefits

A FRAUDSTER was allowed to go free from court despite owning up to falsely claiming £25,000 in benefits.

Donna Chapman started claiming benefits in 2004 as a lone parent, picking up income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

However, the 28-year-old failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions after her boyfriend Christopher Clark moved in with her at the end of 2007.

Mr Clark, now her husband, was in full-time employment at the time, Newcastle Crown Court heard last week.

Lee Fish, prosecuting, said that by the time Chapman’s fraud eventually came to light, she had falsely claimed just over £24,500.

He added: “She made full admissions.

“She said she was frightened to disclose the true situation as she didn’t want to go to prison.”

Chapman, of Spital Road, Newbiggin, pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify a chance in circumstances.

Shaun Routledge, defending, said: “It’s important to note that this claim had been genuine for over three years and nine months.

“In December 2007, Mr Clark moved in, and they married this year.

“At the time, his work was sporadic. He was on a monthly sub-contractors contract and he wouldn’t know if he would be working the next month.

“She was made redundant in the last fortnight but is looking to get back into part-time employment.”

Mr Routledge added that Chapman was paying the money back at the rate of £155 a month.

Judge Guy Whitburn sentenced Chapman to a 25-week prison sentence suspended for two years, with a two-year supervision order.

He told her: “You’ve been living with your partner since 2007 and not divulged it to the authorities.

“You profited to the tune of £25,000, all of which is gone.

“You will benefit from the supervision of a probation officer.”