Chanice Brown, 25-year-old mother and £22,000 benefit cheat, caught by Facebook wedding snaps. Suspended sentence, obviously.

Our thanks to Stu for this. Excerpts:

A woman who fraudulently claimed benefits as a single mother for nearly three years was caught when she posted her wedding photographs on Facebook.

Chanice Bowen, 25, of Barry, had told the Department for Work and Pensions she and her partner split up in January 2013, and her benefit payments rose.

But she married him in October 2013, and went on to receive £22,000 she was not entitled to. She was given a 10-month suspended sentence and told to repay the money…

Bowen pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information about being overpaid £21,696 between January 2013 and November 2015.

Adam Sharpe, defending, said: “She accepts she embarked on this enterprise out of greed, albeit to support her daughter. [Stealing on behalf of others (allegedly) – totally a mitigating factor for a ‘mum’. There is nothing in the article to suggest the man she married in October 2013 is no longer living with her.]

“She is in a stable relationship and actively seeking employment and is fit for work.

“The effects of sending her into custody would have a particularly devastating impact on her family.”

Bowen was initially remanded into custody for a night while Judge Stephen Hopkins QC considered her sentence.

However the following day he told her she had “escaped immediate custody by a cat’s whisker”. [Dear God, how often have we read lines like this? Women – especially ‘mums’ – are SO lucky!!!]

He suspended her sentence after deciding jailing her would have an “enormous” effect on her daughter.

The bottom line? The woman stole £22,000 from the taxpayer, and we have to hope she’ll pay it back if and when she can (she paid £2,000 last year, just £22,000 to go.) We’ve seen this time and again. When a woman – especially a ‘mum’, as here – steals £x,000, she’s asked to pay back £x,000 when she can, and the judge imposes no fine, let alone a custodial sentence. How on earth does this deter others from doing the same, when the worst-case scenario is they will have to pay back only what they’ve stolen, if they can? A man in the same situation, with or without children, would of course be in prison today.

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About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • Lawrence Newman

    I actually oppose sending anyone to jail for this as it would just cost the taxpayer even more. But what’s the betting men get jail for this.

    • Mike Buchanan

      So what punishment would you suggest?

      • Lawrence Newman

        Being required to pay it back with enough interest to cover the court costs.

      • Mike Buchanan

        Within what time period? And if they fail to pay, what then?

      • Lawrence Newman

        It would depend on their income. If they fail to make regular payments, assets could be seized?

      • Mike Buchanan

        … a single mother with no assets, e.g. living in social housing courtesy of male taxpayers (mainly)?

      • Lawrence Newman

        Surely it would still be in society’s best interests for the judge to say, ‘Find a job within 6 months and start making payments, or you spend x years in jail’? Doesn’t every prisoner cost the taxpayer over 20k per annum?

      • William Gruff

        Sorry Lawrence but I cannot refrain from observing that you appear to be living in cloud cuckoo land. The judiciary is strongly disinclined to imprison women at all, for very nearly any crime; they are not going to imprison them merely for defaulting on payments. You may want that to happen but it won’t.

      • Lawrence Newman

        I was talking hypothetically, which is the only way I talk nowadays

      • Mike Buchanan

        Thanks Lawrence. To my mind the issue of cost to the taxpayer of prison doesn’t come into it. Prison has some deterrence value, and both men and women should be equally liable to go to prison for the same crimes. Using kids as a ‘get out of jail card’ for ‘mums’ – never for ‘dads’ – is invidious and just encourages more female criminality.

      • Lawrence Newman

        I hope I didn’t give the impression I thought women shouldn’t go to jail for this but men should. Gender doesn’t come into it for me. I don’t object to giving consideration to kids’ welfare; it’s the fact it’s all one way favouring women I object to. If men found guilty of petty crime were given the same consideration RE welfare of their kids, I wouldn’t have such an issue with it.

        Yes, I totally agree prison should be a deterrent and I don’t support the progressive movement’s ‘we need to lower prison population just for the sake of it’ mentality. But I look at the people who generally commit benefit fraud and in the words of Rab C Nesbitt, they’re the ‘scum’. The dregs. The people who often have no hope, no motivation, no faith, and no future, in large part due to the way they’ve been let down by successive governments. I’m not excusing theft but there are different kinds of theft with different degrees of societal damage.

        I know it’s whataboutery, but it annoys me that people like this can get put in jail while the nation destroyers of the Bernie Madoff variety usually go unpunished.

      • William Gruff

        Have a happy Easter Lawrence, and you too Mike.

      • wisemanner

        Exactly, Mike. People like this only generally have what the state will give them.

      • Mike Buchanan

        No additional fine as punishment?

      • Lawrence Newman

        I guess an extra 1 or 2 grand fine on top, yes. Don’t you think that would be better than jail? Better for the taxpayer. And it would be as or more effective in making the offender think twice before doing it again.

      • Mike Buchanan

        OK, so the woman stole £22,000 and could have got away with it (and would presumably have stolen more, until found out). And for this she should pay just a grand or two on top? So for her the scenarios are:

        Best case – keep £22,000
        Worst case – pay a fine of £1,000 or £2,000

        How is the worst case a punishment, and therefore a deterrent? It’s like taking out a very low-interest loan with the possibility you’ll never have to repay the principal. Hell, I’m up for that!

      • Lawrence Newman

        But these people don’t go into this expecting to pay the money back. 22k alone is a massive amount for someone on minimum wage. It would still feel like a punishment as they’d have to work full-time to pay it back, along with the thousands on top covering court costs and fine.

        I’m thinking of the taxpayer and our already full prisons.

        I said 1 or 2 grand fine off the top of my head, probably because the people who commit this crime are usually unemployed or on minimum wage. Maybe 5 or 10 grand is better. My central point was saving the taxpayer money.

      • William Gruff

        I’m thinking of … our already full prisons.

        Only our men’s prisons are already full and overcrowded. There are tens of thousands of places free for women.

      • Lawrence Newman

        “Only our men’s prisons are already full and overcrowded. There are tens of thousands of places free for women.”

        I admit, I hadn’t considered that! But it would still cost over 20K a year to keep a female prisoner. If we can save the taxpayer money while still punishing her, I think it’s best. She won’t feel she got away with it if she’s having to work her ass off for years to pay it back with interest.

  • William Gruff

    The effects of sending her into custody would have a particularly devastating impact on her family.

    As does jailing a husband and father. So what?

  • David B

    Not penalizing the mom sets up moral hazard – mom’s have no incentive to behave lawfully knowing that they will receive leniency to prevent any untoward effect on the child.