A BENEFIT cheat who claimed almost £30,000 which she was not entitled to has been spared jail.
Julie Buglass did not tell the authorities that her husband, who has since died, was living with her for an eight-year period from around 2003.
The 46-year-old mum-of-two denied benefit fraud but was found guilty by a jury after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Judge Robert Adams said Buglass was convicted on overwhelming evidence and her explanations were “pretty close to farcical”.
He told her: “There was overwhelming evidence that, certainly for periods, your now deceased ex was still living at that address.”
The court heard company documents showed the late husband, who was a driving instructor, had close links to the house, which she denied.
Judge Adams added: “A form of relationship was ongoing and he was clearly at the address regularly.”
Buglass, of Wisteria Gardens, South Shields, was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
The court heard the part-time cleaner is now paying the £29,705 back.
Nick Lane, defending, said Buglass now accepts the verdict of the jury.
Mr Lane said: “She has come to view her behaviour as being dishonest.”
The court heard Buglass is not in good health.