Benefit cheat must pay back £35,386

Picture: Victoria Wilcox''Latest Derby Crown Court file picture - gv
Picture: Victoria Wilcox''Latest Derby Crown Court file picture - gv

A welfare cheat has been told to speed up repaying £35,386 in benefits that she wrongly claimed from the authorities after a judge heard she could still be handing it back in 37 years.

Judge Ebrahim Mooncey told Derby Crown Court the repayments were coming from benefits illegally received by Anne-Marie Keeling, of Kirk Close, Ripley.

He said: “This was money from the public purse and we want to see every single penny back.”

Rhona Campbell, prosecuting, said the Department for Work and Pensions’ policy is that the overpayment will be clawed back at a small rate from Keeling’s ongoing benefits.

The judge said the mother-of-three would take until 2050 to clear the debt. She has already repaid £1,000.

Keeling, 23, admitted failing to report a change of circumstances which affected her benefits between June 2008 and October 2012 when partner Dale Woodhouse was living with her.

Chris Brewin, defending, said: “The mischief is allowing the situation to continue. My client feels very ashamed. She should have reported it to the authorities when the relationship became more settled.”

The case was adjourned for Keeling to offer a higher repayment.