Northern Ireland

Woman jailed for stealing benefits from vulnerable adults

A woman has been jailed after pleading guilty to stealing £55,000 of benefits which were due to have been paid to three vulnerable adults.

Abigail McClelland, 41, a former administrative officer at the department of works and pensions branch at Lisahally, County Londonderry, was jailed for three months.

McClelland transferred the benefits payments to her own bank account between September 2009 and January 2011.

The £55,000 has since been repaid by her parents.

McClelland's offending was discovered following an internal audit at her office.

The audit was prompted following her third theft.

Judge Piers Grant said while McClelland spent some of the money on mortgage and rates arrears she also frittered the rest on at times luxurious goods.

He said "she had betrayed her position of trust" as well as "betraying her two young children".

Judge Grant said he acknowledged McClelland, whose house has been repossessed has been interviewed as part of an ongoing police investigation into her estranged husband's alleged role in the offences.