Mum’s £52,957 benefit fraud

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A married mum who illegally claimed over £50,000 in benefits has been given a suspended jail sentence at Lincoln Crown Court.

Tara Petherick failed to tell the authorities when she got married and continued to receive income support, council tax benefit and housing benefit on the basis that she was a single mother.

Tony Stanford, prosecuting, said Petherick initially made a legitimate claim for benefits but should have informed the DWP and her local council when she married.

He said: “It was a genuine claim when it was first made but inquiries were made later on and it was established she married in December 2005.”

Mr Stanford said that Petherick took out a joint loan with her husband and inquiries revealed that her husband’s wages were paid into her bank account.

He told the court “The net effect is that the defendant has fraudulently obtained £52,957.”

Petherick (43), of Donington Road, Horbling, admitted failing to declare a change of circumstance between December 2005 and November 2011.

She was given a 36 week jail sentence suspended for a year with 12 months supervision and 180 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder Simon Medland QC told her “Whatever the qualities of your marriage you knew you ought to have reported the change.

“A very great amount of public money has been unlawfully obtained by you.”

David Stanton, defending, said Petherick had an unhappy marriage and has suffered a decline in both her mental and physical health.

“Her husband was manipulative and dominant. He insisted his wages were paid into her account but he would draw all of the money out for himself. She was given nothing to live on.

“It was relatively easy to allow the benefits to carry on being paid. There is no evidence of the money being spent on frivolous matters. It has all gone to the family. It has not gone to gambling, excess living or holidays.”

He said that Petherick, who had no previous convictions, is now repaying the money at £310 a month.