Woman conned £25,000 out of benefits system with fake single mum claim

A WOMAN today escaped jail and was instead ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service for conning the benefits system out of £25,000 by pretending she was a single mum.

Patricia Sullivan, 53, told the Department of Work and Pensions she lived alone and had a child to look after when she was actually living with and being supported by her husband, James Sullivan, 61, who was in employment at the time.

At an earlier hearing fiscal depute Ruth Ross-Davie told Edinburgh Sheriff Court the offence was discovered by an audit carried out by the DWP.

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Sullivan, of The Square, Newtongrange, admitted fraudulently claiming for Income Support Benefit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit between July 29, 2005, and April 1, 2008. She carried out the offence at her home address and elsewhere.

The court heard Sullivan had mental health difficulties, had a 14-year-old daughter to look after and was a first offender.

Sheriff Isabella McColl said: "Because of all the circumstances I am prepared to place you on a community service order but that is the discount."

The sheriff warned Sullivan she has a year to complete the hours and if she does not do so she will likely face custody.