Bircotes: ‘Married’ relationship status on Facebook led to prosecution of £12k benefit cheat

09-0565-2''Mansfield Magistrates Court
09-0565-2''Mansfield Magistrates Court

A former Bircotes benefit cheat who claimed more than £12,000 has avoided an immediate jail sentence.

Katie Richardson was sentenced at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Friday 14th November for a total of nine benefit fraud offences.

She alleged that she was living alone but throughout the duration of the claim she was living with her husband Carl Richardson.

Bassetlaw District Council prosecuted Richardson who dishonestly claimed £12,862.49.

Coun Sylvia May, cabinet member for customer and support services, said: “This is a case whereby somebody has set out to dishonestly claim benefits.”

“I welcome the sentence handed down by the court and hope this gives out a clear message. If you cheat the system, you will be caught and prosecuted.”

The court heard that Katie Richardson forged a letter purporting to be from her landlady which stated that her tenancy had been amended into her name as she had separated from her husband.

There was significant evidence the pair were living together, including joint bank accounts, three vehicles registered to the address and both their Facebook accounts stated they were happily married.

Richardson was interviewed under caution on three occasions and vehemently denied that her husband was living with her. Despite this, she pleaded guilty to the nine offences before the court.

She was given a suspended prison sentence of 17 weeks, 140 hours of unpaid work and costs of £250. The overpayments in benefit will also have to be repaid.