Talent show mum Amanda Webber guilty of £350,000 benefit fraud

Amanda Webber
Image caption Amanda Webber was told by the judge at Brighton Crown Court she faced a substantial jail term

A mother of eight has been found guilty of fraudulently receiving more than £350,000 in benefits and tax credits.

Amanda Webber, 43, claimed five of her children had disabilities and medical conditions which affected their care and mobility.

But prosecutors told Brighton Crown Court the children led active lives, taking part in PE and activities including music, drama and dance.

Some even auditioned for ITV's Britain's Got Talent show.

Some of the children attended fee-paying schools and performed in professional TV and stage productions including Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz and Billy Elliot.

Prosecutor Andrew Evans told jurors during the five-week trial that the acting, dancing and singing required for the roles were inconsistent with the care and mobility described in claims for disability living allowance (DLA).

Webber received an overpayment of benefits to which she was not entitled of about £353,000 over an eight-year period from 2002.

At the time of her arrest she lived in a seven-bedroom property in Sussex.

The false payments related to DLA, carer's allowance, tax credits and housing and council tax benefit.

Webber denied 24 counts including fraud, obtaining a money transfer by deception and obtaining property by deception but was convicted on all but one count, of making a false representation.

During her defence, she told the court that sending some of her children to stage schools helped their self-esteem.

She said she felt the claims she made were genuine to help bring up her "extraordinarily difficult and demanding children with their myriad problems".

She was remanded in custody for sentencing on Friday and was warned she would face a substantial custodial sentence.

"You have been very dishonest for a long period of time," the judge told her.

"You are a highly intelligent woman.

"You must have realised how dishonest you were being and the time has come to face up to the consequences to your actions, those actions impacting on your wholly innocent children."

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