A woman has been given a ten months prison sentence after pleading guilty to fraudulently claiming £80,000 in housing and council tax benefits and income support.

Julie Foster, of Babis Farm Close, Saltash pleaded guilty to nine offences relating to claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit made both in Cornwall and Leicestershire and a claim to Income Support at Truro Crown Court on Friday, August 8.

The court was told that Miss Foster had claimed she was a single mother living in rented accommodation when, in fact, she lived with her partner Stephen O’Neill in a property he owned. The offences ranged from making false claims, failing to notify of changes in circumstance and the production of false tenancy agreements to be used in the fraud.

Prosecuting Julia Cox, of Devon Chambers, said that Foster had submitted fraudulent claims over a nine year period.

Defending Ramsey Quaife, also of Devon Chambers, said Miss Foster had submitted a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and had assisted with the investigation by giving evidence for the Crown. She was formerly of good character and had two dependent daughters.

Sentencing Miss Foster to ten months imprisonment Judge Harvey-Clarke said she had deliberately engaged in fraudulent activity and, despite receiving a large inheritance of £100,000 part way though, decided to continue the fraud rather than telling the Local Authority. She had also made no expression of regret or remorse.

He added that while he had sympathy for her daughters, the level of offending meant that he could not suspend the sentence. He had, however reduced his original intention to sentence her to 20 months imprisonment by five months as a result of her assistance to the Crown and a further five months for her early guilty pleas. As a result the final sentence of 10 months imprisonment reflected her deliberate acts which had occurred at the expense of the public authorities over a number of years which has resulted in a substantial loss to those public authorities.

Cornwall Council operates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to fraud and corruption. If you suspect fraud is occurring we would be happy to talk to you on our confidential fraud hotline. Call us on freephone 0800 7316125.