A 51-YEAR-OLD Scarborough woman has been sent to prison for 12 weeks after admitting not declaring an income when she falsely claimed almost £10,000 over three years.
Patricia Ann Doyle, of Victoria Terrace, appeared at Scarborough Magistrates Court this week and had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
She was charged with making a false representation when she originally made a benefit claim with Scarborough Council contrary to the Social Security Administration Act 1992.
The case against her was brought by the council and the court heard that the offences dated back to February 2008 and that Doyle had not informed the authorities that others were living at the same address.
David Kitson, prosecuting, said that the matter came to light in April last year and Doyle’s housing benefit claim was double checked with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
He said: “Details were recorded and checks undertaken to access claim records. The claim records showed that she’d been claiming since February 2008.”
Mr Kitson added that Doyle had also claimed to have been working at Russell’s cafe in Pickering.
“She’d not actually worked for him for three or four years,” he said.
“She admitted in interview that she’d not declared tax credits and she’d not been honest. She felt like she’d been on a roller coaster.”
He said that by last August details of a bank account had been supplied and it showed that Doyle had received a total of £9,655 – including £8,269.13 in housing benefit and £1,385.87 council tax benefit – of which a total £9,259 was still outstanding.
The case had been adjourned from Monday, February 14, while a pre-sentence report was prepared.
Peter Maynard, mitigating, said Doyle had shown remorse for her crimes.
He added: “The offending has come out into the open. She was scared and continued to offend in this way.
“She fully cooperated with the investigation team and she made full and frank admissions when interviewed.”
He added that his client had suffered from health problems, including depression and was currently in receipt of incapacity benefit.
“It’s significant to note that, now that this has all come out following detailed assessment, her risk of re-offending is low,” he said.
“I’d ask you to implement the recommendations of the report where the author said that my client has concerns about her ability to cope in custody. She’s not experienced custody before. Custody would serve little benefit in the long term re-offending behaviour.”
Mr Maynard urged the bench to “step back for a moment from custody” and look at alternative sentences.
He said: “You may feel this warrants a suspended sentence and I’d ask you not to make an immediate sentence today.”
However, the magistrates felt that the offence was so serious that they had no alternative but to sentence Doyle to a term in custody.
She was sentenced to a prison term of 12 weeks with immediate effect.