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Dudley mum avoids jail after paying back thousands in fiddled benefits
8:00am Tuesday 24th September 2013 in News
A DUDLEY mother-of-three who fiddled nearly £54,500 in benefits has avoided jail - because she has paid back every penny.
It was the kind of debt that normally took many, many years to clear, said Ekwall Tiwana defending, but care worker Kelly Gray has repaid the money in full.
He told Wolverhampton Crown Court the partner of the 33-year-old care home worker had sold a property when she could have "taken the easy way out" and asked for considerable time to pay.
Recorder Nigel Baker QC told Gray: "It is remarkable to come across a case like this where the money has all been repaid and that is the best mitigation you can have."
He said Gray, of Foxglove Road, was a woman of previous good character, she also had three young children to look after and they were further reasons for her to be allowed to keep her freedom.
Gray admitted two specimen charges of benefit fraud and she was given an eight month jail term suspended for two years and also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work in the community.
Adam Western, prosecuting, said Gray filed to notify the authorities she was living with a man as husband and wife when she continued to claim for benefits.
The claims she made were legitimate from the start but they then became dishonest and she picked up an overpayment of £54,443 between 2005 and 2011.
Mr Tiwana added Gray had been in a relationship at the time and the man had not provided for her financially.
He stressed she had used the benefits to provide everyday household items for her family rather than luxuries.
He added: "She knows what she did was wrong and that she should have informed the Department of the situation."