Ilchester woman Kirsty Summers guilty of £16,000 benefit fraud

A woman from Somerset has been found guilty of fraudulently claiming £16,200 in benefits but has been spared a prison sentence.

Kirsty Summers, 23, of Ilchester had previously admitted two charges of fraud for claims made between 2009-11.

Her defence, Ray Peters, said "she was too scared to inform the department" and took "the ostrich approach".

At Taunton Deane Magistrates' Court, she was handed a 12-month community order to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

Chair of the bench, Julia Spotswood, said: "We have looked at all of the options, including custody, but we feel this is the best option.

"I don't think anybody likes anyone who undertakes benefit fraud and I'm sure you agree."

'Troubled childhood'

Summers, a model, was also ordered to pay £100 in costs.

Summers has started to pay back the money, she said, but told the court she was finding it difficult to work after media reports wrongly claimed she was working as "porn star".

Magistrates also heard how she had a "troubled childhood and upbringing".

The court heard how she had been working on a self-employed basis for various adult television and online shows but had told a friend she did not need to tell the benefits office she was working because it was less than 16 hours a week.

However, claimants must declare their level of earnings, even if they work less than 16 hours a week.

Summers admitted claiming £3,700 in income support between November 2009 and January 2011 and £10,100 in housing benefit from November 2009 and February 2011.

She also took council tax benefit amounting to £2,300, from November 2009 to March 2011.

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