£40k benefit fraud mum from Rainham is spared jail
PUBLISHED: 14:28 09 January 2015 | UPDATED: 18:39 09 January 2015
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A mum-of-three from Rainham, who lied so she could fraudulently claim more than £40,000 in benefits, was today spared jail.
Lisa Cooper, 35, of Christchurch Avenue, told the London Borough of Havering she was still a single mother, despite marrying her partner Steven Buttery in 2009.
She admitted two charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances at an earlier magistrates court hearing, and has since begun paying back the sum at £25 per week. She was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court this morning.
The council was alerted when Cooper changed her last name to Buttery on social media sites and legal documents, and when pictures of the couple on holiday started appearing on Facebook.
A search of her home found multiple bills registered in Mr Buttery’s name along with payslips for his full-time job.
In total, Cooper fraudulently claimed £40,891 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support between October 2009 and September 2013.
Christos Georgiou, for Cooper, said: “She has three children aged 16,13 and 10, the eldest has quite a severe case of ADHD and requires a lot of medication and constant care.”
He added: “She cares a lot for her mother who is unwell and lives nearby.”
Sentencing Cooper to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, as well as 150 hours unpaid work, Judge Humfrey Malins said: “It was a long-term fraud and there’s no doubt at all that these offences deserve a prison sentence.”
He added: “You’ve reached the age of 35 without any previous convictions, and there’s no doubt you’ve got your hands full with three relatively young children and bringing them up is of course a joy but no doubt a herculean task.
“I doubt very much we’ll see you back in court in the future.”
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