Mum-of-three admits £8K benefit fraud

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A mother-of-three from Bridlington has pleaded guilty to falsely claiming more than £8,000 in Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Sara Dolphin, 32, of Marton Road, made a claim back in March 2012 on behalf of herself and her partner Darren Skitt – but it became fraudulent when he started work as a self-employed truck driver.

East Riding Magistrates heard that in May 2012, more than two months after the claim had been set up, Dolphin falsely signed a declaration to say that Mr Skitt was not working.

The fraud carried on until July the following year by which time a total of £8,067.95 had been dishonestly claimed.

Prosecuting, Colette Dixon said an aggravating feature was that Dolphin had a previous conviction for a similar matter in 2007.

The couple, who moved to Bridlington from the West Midlands to make a fresh start, have since split up, leaving Anderson to support three children on her own, the court heard.

Jason Nicholson, defending, said: “This is not a case that was fraudulent at the outset. The claim was originally made as a genuine claim and it was only subsequent changes in circumstances that gave rise to the offence.”

He said that had the couple declared their true position, Dolphin would have been entitled to Income Support - which would have “significantly reduced” the amount falsely claimed.

The court heard that a “substantial amount” of the money had already been repaid through money being deducted from Dolphin’s subsequent benefits.

Mr Nicholson added: “She has been managing on very limited means for a very long period of time to repay these funds.

“But the good news is that she now has a part-time job working 16 hours a week at a fish and chip shop in Bridlington.”

Magistrates decided to go along with the recommendation by The Probation Service, that Dolphin carry out unpaid work in order to put something back into the community.

She was ordered to carry out 40 hours unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order. She must also pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

The charge to which Dolphin pleaded guilty was failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in circumstances affecting entitlement to benefit.