Benefits cheat paid over £100,000 in handouts she was not entitled to

A benefits cheat who was paid over £100,000 in handouts she was not entitled to has kept her freedom.

Lynsey Catley claimed income support, tax credits, housing and council tax benefits, along with other monies which she knew she should not receive. The 39-year-old, of Broomfield, Jarrow, admitted six charges of benefit fraud, amounting to a total of £102,787.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Catley confessed she had been dishonest when she was questioned in 2018 about her claims and said she would pay the money back. The court heard the claims had started out as honest and legitimate but she failed to notify the authorities when her circumstances changed.

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Nicholas Lane, defending, said Catley works 60 hours per week and has been repaying as much as she can afford from her wages. Mr Lane added: "She is very sorry. This offending was at a time she was at a low point in her life. The court can have some confidence she is not going to offend again."

Newcastle Crown Court

Mr Recorder Mark McKone sentenced Catley, who has no previous convictions, to 19 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, along with 280 hours unpaid work to be undertaken.

The judge told her: "You deserve to go to prison today. Hard working people pay taxes to help those who need help. You got help when you needed it. Tax payers are outraged by benefit fraud."

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The judge said the jail term could be suspended as Catley is capable of rehabilitation, has responsibilities and employment.