�30,000 claimed by benefits cheat

A BENEFIT cheat who dishonestly claimed more than �30,000 has walked free from court after being given a suspended prison sentence.

Mother-of-four Tracey Lawrence failed to notify the authorities that she was living with her partner who was in work, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Lawrence, 38, of Evergreen Road, Lowestoft, admitted two offences of failing to notify a change in her circumstances and was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work in the community.

Sentencing her Judge David Goodin said the offences crossed the custody threshold and if she breached the suspended sentence she would be facing a prison term.

Mark Stern, prosecuting, said Lawrence had been overpaid �32,715 in income support and housing and council tax benefit over a four-year period between 2004 and 2008 after she failed to disclose that her partner had moved in with her.

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The court heard that surveillance was carried out on Lawrence’s home on 43 occasions and her partner was seen coming and going from the premises.

Nicola May, for Lawrence, said her client’s claims for benefit had initially been genuine but had become fraudulent.

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She said Lawrence had four children and had not enjoyed a high standard of living.

“They are a family who have always struggled to cope,” she said.

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