A MUM-of-four claimed nearly £10,000 in benefits she was not eligible for because she was living with her working husband, a court heard.

Zara Chudley conned the taxpayer out of the cash she shouldn’t have been given by not telling the authorities her partner had moved into her Southampton home.

The 34-year-old had begun legitimately claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit in 2008.

She was caught out after investigators put her Pat Bear Close home under surveillance for two months last summer, and spotted her windscreen fitter husband repeatedly parking his personal and business vehicles at the property in the evenings and overnight, and leaving for work in the morning.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard officials also obtained copies of a loan agreement and TV licence in his name, both containing his wife’s address, as well as a joint bank account also registered to the home.

When interviewed in September last year, Chudley admitted her husband had been living with her for 12 months.

She told investigators she hadn’t stopped claiming the benefits because she was worried about the impact the loss of income would have on her children, aged between four and 10.

JPs were told Chudley, who was said to have suffered “much stress and sleepless nights” over the criminal proceedings against her, has now begun to repay the cash she fraudulently claimed.

After admitting three charges of fraudulently obtaining benefits, she was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.