Harold Hill woman escapes jail after £76,000 benefit fraud
A mother-of-five who committed benefit fraud by claiming £76,000 she was not entitled to has escaped jail.
Stacey Bailey, 32, of Heaton Avenue, Harold Hill, began claiming income support in 2004 and continued pocketing handouts after tying the knot, and therefore losing her entitlement.
Bailey told Havering Council she was still a single mother and was not caught until April 2012, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
In total, she claimed £76,817 in hand-outs she was not entitled to, including childcare benefits, income support, housing and council tax benefits.
Judge Stephen Freeland QC handed the mum a 12-month suspended jail sentence, after deciding the welfare of her children would be seriously diminished should she be incarcerated.
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He said: “In a way you richly deserve to go immediately into custody.
“It is true the income support was not from the outset dishonest but your claiming of housing and council tax benefits was wholly dishonest.
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“But you are the mother of five children and I think you are genuinely remorseful. You are also looking after your nephew and your testimonials are very complimentary of you.
“I am just about able to suspend this sentence but should you be back before this court for any offence, you will be going immediately into custody.”
Bailey must perform 200 hours community service within the next year and pay £300 in prosecution costs.
She is already paying back the money she owes - out of the benefits she is still claiming.
At the moment all of the income support money is still owed to the Department of Work and Pensions while just more than £30,000 is owed to Havering Council.
Bailey admitted four counts of dishonestly making a false representation for self-gain and one count of failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstance.