Woman used different names to claim £15,000 in benefits

PUBLISHED: 15:51 27 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

A MARRIED woman who lived sometimes with her husband used aliases and claimed to be single to defraud St Albans District Council of more than £15,000 in benefits. Judge Marie Catterson sitting at St Albans Crown Court on Friday jailed Pauline Hill for si

A MARRIED woman who lived sometimes with her husband used aliases and claimed to be single to defraud St Albans District Council of more than £15,000 in benefits.

Judge Marie Catterson sitting at St Albans Crown Court on Friday jailed Pauline Hill for six months suspended for two years.

Hill, aged 59, of Martham Court, Hickling Way, Harpenden, had pleaded guilty to failing to notify the council of a change in her circumstances. Her original claim for benefits was based on the fact that she lived alone, had no partner or dependants and was in receipt of incapacity benefit, disability living allowance and did not work. The offences were said to have taken place over four years between between August 2002 and July 2006.

The court heard that Hill lived part of the time with her husband Michael Outlaw at Lodgefield in Welwyn Garden City and was also known as Pauline Outlaw.

They were re-housed in a bungalow there by Welwyn Hatfield Council from their previous home in Nursery Hill, Welwyn Garden City. They had taken over the tenancy of the Nursery Hill house in May 1986. The bungalow was adapted to assist Mrs Outlaw as she is disabled.

She moved into Martham Court, which is warden-controlled accommodation, in August 2002 calling herself Pauline Hill. In March 2004 she was moved from her studio flat there into a one-bedroom unit because she claimed her partner was coming to live with her.

But just a month later she claimed housing benefit saying she lived alone.

Miss Maria Karaiskos, prosecuting, said Hill had always claimed she did not hold any bank or building society accounts. But a subsequent investigation by the council revealed that she had a bank account in the name of Pauline Lunney and a joint bank account with her husband who was in full-time employment.

Colin Aylott, defending, said his client had been of previous good character and had personal and health difficulties including arthritis which made walking difficult. She was also on anti-depressants due to mental health problems.

He said Hill had admitted going back and forth between the two properties saying she and her husband were friends but could not live together.

Originally, she said she had spent time with him because the bungalow was better adapted to suit her needs but then she would return home to Harpenden.

He added there had been no obvious profit to her and that she would have been in receipt of exactly the same benefits had she declared herself officially separated from her husband.

Judge Marie Catterson said: "I accept that you had a difficult, not to say tragic, life history and I have taken into account your health problems but you have robbed the public purse of £15,780 in benefits to which you were not entitled."

Apart from the six-month suspended jail term, she ordered Hill to undergo six months supervision from a probation officer and pay £1,000 towards the council costs.

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