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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