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Benefit cheat spared jail after paying back cash
9:54am Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
A BENEFIT cheating mum has escaped a prison sentence after she paid back most of the money she cheated out of the taxpayer.
Christina Hallum lied about being a single mum and banked more than £48,000 in council tax benefits, income support and child tax credits over four years.
But Southampton Crown Court heard that she was living with her working husband and therefore not entitled to any of it.
She was rumbled after a member of the public reported her to the benefits agencies.
Hallum, of Grove Place, Southampton, pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining benefits fraudulently.
But on the day of the sentencing, the 32-year-old mum and care worker from Southampton had paid off £26,000 and was ready that day to write a cheque for the remaining amount.
Damian Hayes, defending, said she had the money because her husband had been made redundant in July and was using his cash to clear the money owed.
He said: “The initial claim had been made at a time when she and her husband were separated, separated for a number of months and when they resumed cohabitation it was very much on a trial basis.
“Unfortunately she failed to make the necessary notifications.”
Sentencing, Judge Gary Burrell said: “You took approximately £48,000 from the public purse by way of council tax benefit, income support and child tax credit.
“That type of offence is no longer acceptable to the courts or to the public.
“It’s serious because of the extent of the fraud and the length of time it was perpetrated.
“You simply lied about your status saying you were in effect a single parent and you weren’t.”
But because she paid most of the money she conned back, he suspended a ten-month sentence for two years.