north Belfast woman escapes a jail term £24,000 benefit fraud

north Belfast woman escapes a jail term £24,000 benefit fraud

A gambling addict who defrauded the Social Security Agency out of £24,000 in false benefit claims was given a suspended prison sentence today.

Belfast Crown Court heard on Thursday how Carol Watson (51) had made fraudulent claims while working as a cook between for Angels Day Care Centre between 2006 and 2010.

However, the court heard that Watson, of Mount Vernon, north Belfast, failed to tell the SSA that she was in employment.

Prosecutor Simon Jenkins said that between 1999 and 2005 Watson had been legitimately claiming social security benefits.

However, he said that in the four year period of work she made false claims for housing benefit, income support, job seekers allowance and carers allowance totalling £24,628.

Among the false claims were:

* around £9,000 in housing benefits;

* just over £7,000 in carers allowance;

* £6,500 income support;

* and around £1,000 in job seekers allowance.

Mr Jenkins told Judge Gordon Kerr QC that that Watson was now trying to pay back the money, starting off with an initial £300 payment.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC said Watson had an addiction to gaming machines and sentenced her to 12 months in prison suspended for two years.


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