FORMER pub landlady Sharon Ellis is now paying back the nearly £4,000 of public money she falsely claimed.

As previously reported, for five months last year Ellis claimed £3,474 in housing benefit and £451 in council tax benefits, despite having a house which was rented out.

Ellis, of Lupin Road, Bassett, Southampton, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to one charge of benefit fraud.

The court heard how Ellis, who before the fraud had no previous convictions, said someone else had filled in the form and she had not read it before signing it.

The 41-year-old is now struggling financially and has depression, but she has repaid £356 so far and will continue doing so at the rate of £20 a fortnight out of her legitimately claimed benefits. Magistrates fined her £75, and ordered she pay £100 in costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.