Chesterfield benefit cheat pays back over £10,000 in illegal claims

Chesterfield Magistrates' Court.
Chesterfield Magistrates' Court.

A welfare cheat who illegally claimed £10,655 in council tax and housing benefits has been spared from jail.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on April 30 how Jennifer Brooks, 51, of Gipsy Lane, Chesterfield, had been claiming the benefit without declaring she had been living with a man.

Amanda Walker, prosecuting on behalf of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “Details were received that a man was living at the property. An investigation revealed he had been living in the property.

“The council received a call that the man was vacating the property and he made a statement saying he had been living with the defendant as her partner.”

Ms Brooks claimed she did not consider the man had been living at the property and believed he had made the statement because she had a new partner.

But investigators were satisfied the man had been a resident and she had allowed him to use the property after he had split up with his wife. Mrs Walker said Brooks has begun paying back £10,655 of benefits.

Brooks told the probation service she was now married to another man under the name of Flannagan and the previous man concerned had been a friend. The defendant claimed she had let the man stay with her but had thought it would have been for a short time.

Brooks pleaded guilty to failing to tell the authorities about living with a man between May 2011 and April 2014 in relation to her council tax and housing benefit. Defence solicitor David Gittins said the case had not been fraudulent from the start and Brooks had not lived the high life but had been struggling financially. Magistrates sentenced Brooks to 18 weeks’ custody suspended for 12 months and ordered her to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work and pay £180 in costs and a victim surcharge.