Overpaid nearly £11,000 on benefits claim

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A Holbeach mum was overpaid almost £11,000 in housing and council tax benefits after claiming to be the only adult in her home.

But investigators discovered Amanda Melling’s husband Carl had been living with her and his wages were being paid into their joint bank account, Boston magistrates heard.

Melling (39), of High Street, was given a year-long community order with 100 hours unpaid work when she pleaded guilty to a benefits claim offence on Wednesday.

She must also pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Ruksana Munir, prosecuting, told the court: “The claim was fraudulent from the outset and there were false statements made by the defendant.”

Mrs Munir said Melling was overpaid a total of £10,998.16 as a result, but was willing to repay that at a rate of £75 a month.

She said Melling’s claim was made on March 3 2011 – and back-dated to February 21 that year.

When interviewed, Melling admitted that her husband had lived with her from March 2011 to October 2012.

Solicitor John Storer, mitigating, said: “My client is adamant that when she made the claim it was a genuine claim.”

He said her husband – now her ex-husband – came to stay, but at that stage it wasn’t intended to be a permanent thing.

“They eventually decided to give the marriage another go and she fully accepts that she pretty much turned a blind eye to the fact that the claim was continuing at that point,” said Mr Storer.

He said Melling went home in October 2012 to find her partner gone – with no word of warning – and it was another three months before she even had any contact with him again.

Mr Storer said: “She’s never been in any sort of trouble with the police before or the authorities.

“The risk of re-offending is very low.

“This is possibly the most frightening experience she’s ever had.

“I don’t think we will ever see her inside a court again.

“She is very sorry, thoroughly remorseful and, as you can see, a very frightened lady.”

Presiding magistrate Steve Burgess told Melling: “We don’t feel on this occasion, although it’s very close, that the custody threshold has been crossed and, therefore, we are going to impose a straightforward community order for this offence.”