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Mum failed to reveal relationship with lorry driver lover
6:00am Monday 7th October 2013 in Crime
A MOTHER-OF-TWO is today in jail for fraudulently claiming more than £60,000 in benefits after failing to declare she was living with her lorry driving lover.
Alison Webb admitted that despite being aware of the change in law that led to same sex couples being treated the same as heterosexual couples, she did nothing to notify benefit bosses that she was living with her partner, who was working.
Her partner, Nicola Dolton, narrowly escaped joining her behind bars after pleading guilty to cheating the system out of more than £16,000 for claiming disability benefits when she was in fact working as a lorry driver.
The 43-year-old was left weeping in the dock at Southampton Crown Court as her partner of 12 years was led away to begin her six-month sentence in prison for three charges relating to benefit fraud.
The pair, from Woolston, were caught out by the Department of Work and Pensions, who had the couple under surveillance for a month after an anonymous tip-off by a member of the public.
The court heard 48-year-old Webb received a total of £91,251.18 in housing benefits, council tax benefits and income support over a seven year period, starting in December 2005, when the law changed giving same sex couples the same legal rights as those in a heterosexual relationship.
During that period she was living in Obelisk Road, Woolston, with Dolton, who was working as a HGV lorry driver while also claiming £16,180.40 disability benefits over five years.
Webb admitted that despite knowing the law had changed, she never asked anybody how that affected her benefits and continued to make claims without declaring she was living with an employed partner.
The court was told that during the times Dolton was not working, Webb may have been eligible for some of the £49,989 income support she received, but that it was impossible to determine how much.
In mitigation, Keeley Harvey said that Webb, who now lives in Victoria Road, Woolston, with Dolton, has a “genuine sense of remorse and a deep sense of shame” for what she has done, adding that at the time of the law change, she was suffering from severe depression.
Judge Peter Henry accepted that their relationship was “onoff” but could not ignore that the fraud was carried out over a “significant” amount of time.
He added: “This is not a victimless crime, the victims in this case are the innocent tax payers whose money has gone where it should not have gone and it means if money is going to you there is less money available to other deserving, proper recipients of benefits.”
The court was told that Dolton first started claiming disability allowance in 2001, on the basis that she had severe mobility problems, suffered from chronic respiratory disease and used a wheelchair.
However, when she started to work as a lorry driver in 2007, she failed to notify benefit bosses, netting more than £16,000 in benefits on top of her wage.
Sentencing her to a four-week suspended sentence, with 150 hours’ unpaid work, Judge Henry accepted that this was not a case of using the money to fund “extravagant living”.
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