A WOMAN who gave birth to three more children with her husband after pretending he had left her has been jailed for fiddling £45,000 in benefits.
Marie Ackerman tried to claim she and husband Steve simply “fell into bed” whenever he visited their kids - but undercover surveillance showed he was still living full-time under the same roof with her, and she should not have been receiving benefits as a single parent.
The Denaby Main couple even enjoyed holidays abroad while she was receiving more than £10,000 a year to which she was not entitled, and in addition to his £1,600 a month take-home pay and her own wages as a care worker.
Mother-of-five Ackerman, aged 41, of Lime Tree Walk, was sentenced to six months in prison after admitting two offences of making fraudulent claims for Income Support, housing benefit and council tax benefit between April 2005 and 2009.
Judge Jacqueline Davies told her: “You gave birth to three more children by your husband so there was clearly an ongoing relationship, and you notified the department of the birth of your children.”
Diana Maudsley, prosecuting for the DWP, said Ackerman started claiming benefits as a lone parent from 2001 when her husband left her, but they were reconciled and he lived with her from April 2005. The couple had another daughter and two sons, in 2002, 2004 and 2008.
After the last child was born DWP officers became suspicious and put the family home under surveillance.
Investigators observed Mr Ackerman’s car, which was registered and insured to the address, parked outside and he gave the same address to his employers.
The TV licence at the house was also in his name and other financial institutions had his address as Lime Tree Walk, said Mrs Maudsley.
When interviewed the wife denied he was living with her and said the children were the result of repeated failed reconciliations.
“He’d come to see the kids and somehow we’d end up in bed together, but we weren’t living as man and wife,” she said.
Investigations also showed they had been to Turkey as a family two years on the trot.
Defence counsel Rodney Ferm said it was difficult to determine where the money went, apart from on the holidays, because Ackerman was a non-smoker, a moderate drinker, and had never owned a car or a house.
She had taken the DWP investigation into her claims “very much to heart”, the court heard, and at one stage was admitted to hospital after an overdose of paracetamol because of the stress, and had been treated for depression.
“This lady is extremely worried because she still has four children at home but she has to pay the price and carry the can,” said Mr Ferm.
Judge Davies said there had to be a custodial sentence because “a very significant sum of money” was obtained while she was still living with her husband.