A WOMAN has escaped jail after pleading guilty to falsely claiming more than £6,000 in benefits.
Mandy Andrew, 55, appeared at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Friday on eight charges of benefit fraud.
Andrew, of Barton Tors, Bideford, pleaded guilty to all charges which relate to dishonestly claiming a total of £6,043.67 in benefits between July 2010 and November 2012.
The court heard how Andrew claimed £1,955.95 in carer’s allowance between July 12, 2010, and November 18, 2012; £582.59 in housing benefit between May 16, 2011, and October 19, 2012; and £167.07 in council tax during the same period.
The remaining money was falsely claimed income support.
Simon Jarvis, for the prosecution, said Andrew claimed she was unemployed when she was in fact working for Absolute Event Solutions and Pollyfield Community Association.
She also failed to notify Torridge District Council and the Department of Work and Pensions that she and her husband, Robin Andrew, were working and that her husband was in receipt of a pension.
Andrew also failed to declare all of her income on her application for carer’s allowance.
Asked why she should not be sent to prison, Andrew said: “If I go to prison I can’t be paying it back and I have a husband to care for and a daughter in hospital who is about to give birth.”
Presiding magistrate Paul Cooper said: “I have taken into account that you have pleaded guilty and have previous good character.
“However, this is quite a sum of money and the level of deceit was high. You said you weren’t working and had to be a full time carer, which was false.”
Mr Cooper handed Andrew a four month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and told her she must carry out 150 hours’ worth of unpaid community work.
Andrew was also ordered to complete an Engage programme and pay £85 towards court costs and an £80 victim surcharge.