Benefits cheat is ordered to sell her house

A grieving woman who cheated the benefits system out of more than £30,000 when she failed to declare cleaning work she was doing will have to sell her home to pay back her ill gotten gains, a court has ruled.

Saturday, 15th October 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 5:01 pm
Benefits cheat Yvonne Thomas

Yvonne Thomas, of Rookwood Avenue, Cleveleys, was brought back before Preston Crown Court, which heard she committed the fraud over a 14-year period.

The 64-year-old’s claims were genuine when she suffered a horse riding injury – but she recovered enough to work, and failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions and her local authority about her cleaning job.

As a result she was overpaid Disability Living Allowance, Council Tax Benefit, Income Support and Employment Support Allowance.

She sat with her head bowed as prosecuting, Mark Stephenson said she had been found to have benefited by £26,883.57 – but had £89,818 assets available.

Her defence lawyer said: “Of course the defendant will put in motion the sale of her property.”

Judge James Adkin said: “An order is being made to recover the financial equivalent of money you embezzled. Your available assets are significantly greater than that, so I’m able to make a confiscation order for the full amount.

“You have three months to pay that amount, or you will serve 12 months in prison in default.”

A previous hearing was told Thomas left her high flying job as an export sales representative in the United Arab Emirates – where she also coached a national show-jumping team – and returned to the UK with her disabled daughter – who has since died – following the breakdown of her marriage.

When a horseriding accident left her unable to work or prepare a hot meal for herself she started claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to support herself. However she failed to notify the DWP and her local authority when her health improved and she took on a part time job as a cleaner.

On Christmas Eve 2014 Thomas received the devastating news her daughter had choked to death in the shower while on holiday and had to undergo the process of repatriating her body alone.

In February she was given a six month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work.