A SCARBOROUGH woman defrauded the taxpayer out of more than £10,000 after she failed to declare the money she made working as an escort.
Sally Barandiaran, 43, of West Bank, who advertises her services on the internet under the alias ‘Lady Carla’, admitted to four offences at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Barandiaran, who previously ran the Duchess pub in Hovingham Drive, was the best friend of murdered police officer Sharon Beshenivsky, who was shot dead in a bungled robbery in Bradford in 2005.
Only last month Barandiaran, who was bridesmaid at PC Beshenivsky’s wedding, made the headlines of a major national newspaper after she criticised the shabby state of her friend’s grave.
David Kitson, prosecuting, told the court Barandiaran had failed to declare her income as a self-employed person on three occasions between July 2008 and August 2009.
She also failed to inform Scarborough Council of the existence of at least three personal bank accounts.
She wrongfully claimed £6,150 in Jobseekers’ Allowance, nearly £3,500 in housing benefit and £720 in council tax benefit between January 2008 and June last year.
On her website, Barandiaran quotes prices of £50 per 15 minutes, £130 for a full hour or £450 for four hours of her company.
Mr Kitson said: “An allegation was received that the defendant was receiving income as a self-employed person.
“Evidence pointed towards that allegation being true.
“She was interviewed on June 1 2010 and admitted she was receiving an income and had received benefits to which she was not entitled.
“It was found that she had been overpaid by £10,343.”
Nick Tubbs, mitigating, said that Barandiaran had no previous convictions of any kind and pleaded guilty to the offences at the first opportunity.
He also said she had started making repayments to the council at a rate of £100 per month.
Mr Tubbs added: “She is very sorry. She was in receipt of an income which should have been disclosed. She is in court for dishonesty and will now have convictions against her name.”
Phillip Catterall, the chairman of the bench, said magistrates had only decided against a custodial sentence because of Barandiaran’s previous good character.
“This was multiple benefit fraud over a long period of time,” he said. “There was a degree of planning on your part.”
Barandiaran was handed a 12 month community order, with the requirement that she completes 250 hours of unpaid work. She will also be under the supervision of the probation service for the period.
She was ordered to pay £3,473 to the council in compensation. The Department for Work and Pensions are also likely to pursue the overpaid Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The Evening News attempted to offer Barandiaran the chance to comment yesterday afternoon. She hung up the phone.