Fraudster’s £15k benefit con

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A FRAUDSTER who lied about her bank savings to claim almost £15,000 in benefits has been spared jail.

Karen Gleadhall, aged 42, of St Helens Street, Elsecar, Barnsley, submitted false benefit claim forms for nearly six years, failing to mention she had received £30,000 in a divorce settlement from her ex-husband.

Barnsley Magistrates Court heard Gleadhall told council officers investigating her finances that she was looking after the cash for her sister, who lived in Spain.

Gleadhall pocketed £12,427 in housing benefit and £2,485 in council tax benefit from February 2005 to last September.

When interviewed by Barnsley Council’s investigating officers, Gleadhall said she was a recovering alcoholic, and admitted receiving the divorce settlement.

She accepted she should have declared the payout on her claim forms, but said she had escaped a bad relationship and used the money to build a new life.

The bench decided a custodial sentence was appropriate due to the high value of money obtained, the dishonesty involved and the length of time over which the offences were committed.

They also said it was “highly suspicious” that Gleadhall withdrew a large amount of money days before attending an interview and then attempted to explain it away.

Gleadhall admitted eight counts of dishonestly submitting false statements to obtain benefits.

She was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment suspended for a year, along with 100 hours of unpaid work, 12 months’ supervision, and £326 costs.

Gleadhall will also have to attend the Together Women’s Project for 23 days and repay Barnsley Council the full amount of overpaid benefit.