A woman with a second home in Cornwall fiddled nearly £60,000 in benefits.

Sharon Berkley admitted fraudulently claiming Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit over an eight year period benefitting £57,490 in taxpayers' money.

She lived in her house in Southampton, Hants, but failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions that she had a second house in Porthtowan, Cornwall, which she rented out for £600 a month.

A judge at Truro Crown Court said 56-year-old Berkley, now living in Redruth, Cornwall, deliberately failed to tell the authorities about her second seaside property.

He said wealthy people owning second holiday homes in Cornwall causes angst with local people.

The judge said from the outset Berkley hid the fact of her second home because she knew she would not be entitled to any State handouts but her defence lawyer said she was not living a lavish lifestyle.

Berkley claimed she was unable to work because she suffered from various physical ailments as well as ADHD and Asperger’s - but had no medical evidence to back this up and the judge said he was not going to take the word of a convicted fraudster.

Recorder James Bromige said her actions were 'borne not out of desperation but borne out of greed by you'.

He told Truro Crown Court:"You have effectively stolen £57,000 from the taxpayer."

He jailed her for 16 months, suspended for two years, saying that locking her up immediately would be a further drain on the State and taxpayer.

The judge was told her Cornish property was worth £90,000 - with £50,000 equity in it - and said a confiscation hearing will be held in June so that she pays back her ill-gotten gains.