Plymouth mother £20k benefit cheat spared prison term
A MOTHER who falsely claimed almost £20,000 in benefits has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Kimberley Calvert, aged 29, pocketed three types of payment over more than two years while failing to declare she was living with a man, Plymouth Magistrates' Court heard.
A district judge said he had thought 'long and hard' about sending her to prison for the 'sheer amount of money' involved. She was overpaid £19,286.
But Nigel Hodkinson said the offences were not complex and he was 'not sure' what an immediate jail sentence would achieve.
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Calvert was given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, on condition she does 220 hours of unpaid work.
She is already paying back the money she claimed and was ordered to pay £100 towards prosecution costs.
Calvert, of Derwent Avenue, Efford, admitted four counts of making false statements to the authorities to gain benefits.
She failed to declare she was living with a man on forms for income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Calvert also admitted two counts of obtaining money transfers from the Department for Work and Pensions and Plymouth City Council by deception.
John Major, prosecuting for the department, said she was wrongly paid £19,287 from January 2007 to September 2009.
He added she had submitted claims as a single mother but started living with the man in January 2007.
Mr Major said she had failed to declare the change of circumstances.
Ken Papenfus, for Calvert, said she had been unsure that the relationship with her partner would last.
He added she had 'historically been a victim of domestic violence over some period of time'.
Mr Papenfus said she was trying to maintain her independence 'in a strange way'.
He added: "She has been haunted night and day by the prospect of going to prison. She has increased the amount she has been drinking to try and cope."
Mr Papenfus said Calvert, who has a young child, was very remorseful.