South West Wales

Psychic and sex chatline worker's benefit fraud sentence

Dawn Pearson
Image caption Dawn Pearson said she'd suffered financial difficulties

A woman who fraudulently claimed £33,000 in benefits while working on a sex chatline and as a tarot reader has been given a suspended sentence.

Dawn Pearson, 50, from Neath advertised her services on the Psychic TV website.

Customers were charged £1.53 per minute while the 50-year-old claimed to be too ill to work.

A judge at Swansea Crown Court gave her a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered her to do 180 hours unpaid work in the community.

Pearson admitted four charges of benefits fraud when she appeared at Neath magistrates' court in September.

The court heard that she unlawfully claimed a total of £33,206.82 in income support, Jobseekers' Allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit over 16 months.

Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said Department of Work and Pensions officials began looking into Pearson's background after a tip-off.

Chatline worker

They found her initial benefit claims, dating from October 2004, were legitimate.

But they found that she had worked for two companies between 2005 and 2009.

One firm said that she had been paid around £600 a month as a sex-chat operator, while the second said she earned an unconfirmed amount as a self-employed psychic and tarot reader.

Pearson was arrested in October 2009 but denied she had been working, claiming she still suffered from anxiety and panic attacks.

She eventually admitted fraud, saying she had been in financial difficulties.

Ridiculed

Her barrister, Frank Phillips, said she had repaid £1,000 and would try to repay the rest.

However, in a pre-sentence report, Pearson complained that her business had suffered due to adverse publicity about the case.

Recorder Christopher Clee QC, passing sentence, said: "You claim that you have been ridiculed in the press and, as a result of which, work has diminished, and that is no great surprise.

"You richly deserve an immediate prison sentence. The majority of the British public who work hard and pay their taxes would rightly demand such a sentence."

But he said that sentencing guidelines meant he could jail Pearson only for a matter of days, adding that it was better that she gave something back to the community.

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