A JUDGE who jailed a cheating South Yorkshire woman for fiddling more than £42,000 in benefits told her: “This country can’t afford it any more.”
Judge Peter Kelson QC hit out at the national problem of benefit fraud as he imposed a deterrent sentence on Christine Dewar, who illegally received t income support.
She insisted she was a single person whose marriage had lasted for just 24 hours, but who had found herself unable to kick her husband out of her Doncaster home.
She kept up her story for 13 years after the one-day marriage broke up in 1996.
But after she was caught by investigators a judge told her the country could not afford to keep people who fiddled the system.
Judge Kelson QC told Dewar: “The simple fact is that over many years you fiddled the state to the tune of £42,000.
“This country can ill afford false claims like yours and deterrent sentences are necessary.
“The message needs to go out that people who fiddle the system risk going to prison. This country can’t afford it any more.
“This will feel like a severe sentence to you but the message must go out that deterrent sentences will be passed.”
Dewar, aged 56, of Old Hall Road, Bentley, was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty at Doncaster Crown Court to two sample offences of making false representations to obtain benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions and Doncaster Council.
Mark Cundy, prosecuting for Doncaster Council, told the court Dewar started claiming Income Support and housing and council tax benefit from 1992 as a single person with no other income.
But an investigation in 2008 showed Philip Lorriman, a full-time employee of Doncaster Council, was resident at her house and had taken out loans and credit cards using that address.
A surveillance operation of her address showed Mr Lorriman leaving the house and returning to the property.
When questioned, Dewar denied he was living with her as a couple, but could not give a reason for him being at the house. She said she had married him in 1996 but said it had lasted only one day.
Dewar, who is now on Disability Living Allowance because of cancer treatment, has repaid about £5,000 from the £42,097 she falsely claimed.
Richard Haigh, defending, said prison was a prospect that ‘absolutely terrified’ Dewar because she had never been in trouble before..