Devon

Plymouth couple jailed over benefit fraud

Jean Swift arriving at Plymouth Crown Court
Image caption Swift was in receipt of income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit

A Devon couple have been jailed for 10 months after admitting benefit fraud.

Jean Swift, 57, of Hertland Walk, Plymouth, falsely claimed nearly £73,000 over a six-year period.

Swift received the benefits after claiming she was a single person caring for two grandchildren.

But Plymouth Crown Court was told John Lawrence, 56, who worked full time as a traffic warden for Plymouth City Council, had lived with her since 2002.

Lawrence pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the fraud.

'Serious crime'

The court heard the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigated Swift's benefit claims after receiving information from an anonymous source.

Documentary and surveillance evidence revealed Lawrence was living in the same house.

As a result of the investigation, the DWP had overpaid nearly £45,000 in income support between October 2001 and May 2008.

During the same period there was also an overpayment of nearly £24,000 in housing benefit and £4,000 in council tax benefit.

Judge Alan Jenkins said benefit fraud was a serious crime and cheats' action would not be tolerated.

Sentencing them both to 10 months in jail, he told the couple they had "dishonestly taken money away from hardworking, honest taxpayers".

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