A woman who illegally claimed £16,500 in benefits after failing to tell the authorities that her husband was working has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Marie Feetham, 45, of Old Gallamore Lane, Market Rasen, claimed Employment and Support Allowance when she was unable to work due to a “catastrophic” back injury.
But Noel Philo, prosecuting, said that she was not entitled to the money because of the income her husband was receiving from his job.
He told the court that when Feetham applied for ESA filling in the application form saying that her husband had no income.
“It is clear she had catastrophic back trouble in 2013 and by October 31, 2013 she was in a position where she was claiming Employment and Support Allowance.
“It is an income-based allowance. She would have been entitled to that subject to herself and any member of her family not having any income.
“It is quite clear that her husband was self-employed and later he worked for an employer.
“She said in several places in a meticulously prepared application form that he had no income. That was clearly false and dishonest from the outset.”
Over a period of four years Feetham received £16,500 in benefit she was not entitled to before the fraud came to light.
Marie Feetham admitted a charge of benefit fraud. She was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for two years with a three month electronically monitored night-time curfew.
A hearing to consider confiscation of her available assets was adjourned to May.
Judge John Pini QC told her: “You knew this claim when you made it was false. It was persisted with for four to five years.
“It was dishonest from the outset. The total loss to the taxpayer is about £16,500.”
Stuart Lody, in mitigation, said that Feetham, who had no previous convictions, initially worked for Lloyds Bank and later for a travel agent but when that firm ceased trading the only job she could get was working for an agricultural supplies firm.
“It involved lifting 25kg bags of animal feed. At the age of 38 she suffered a catastrophic back injury. She underwent an emergency operation on her spine.
“She was subjected to a huge amount of physical pain. Her life effectively fell apart.
“She was unable to go back to work and in constant physical pain. She made a claim for benefit and was asked to notify any change of circumstances and she didn’t.
“She has ended up before the court because of a truly horrible set of circumstances.”