Colchester: �58k benefit fraudster is jailed

A MOTHER who collected more than �58,000 in false benefit claims has been jailed for two years.

Claire Morris will be in prison for the birth of her first grandchild after lying to earn tax credits and financial support over a five-year period.

Morris, 36, of Valentinus Crescent, Colchester, was in breach of two suspended sentences imposed for theft and deception convictions handed down in 2001 and 2003. A judge at Ipswich Crown Court said on Friday that the time had come for Morris to go to prison.

The court heard Morris began claiming undue benefits in 2002, a month after being warned about the consequences of fraudulent claims.

Over the next five years, the proceeds funded an overseas wedding trip, a family holiday to Center Parcs and the purchase of a Mercedes car.

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Morris had denied nine fraud charges, amounting to �58,104.38 of false claims, but was found guilty by a jury on September 30.

The court heard that for five months in 2002 and three months in 2006, she made no false claims, but on both occasions her dishonesty resumed.

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Morris has a pregnant 20-year-old daughter and two younger children for whom she pays monthly child support of �240.

She was caring for two other children while claiming to be a single parent, but in fact actually had a partner who earned a �28,000 salary.

Judge John Holt told Morris: “This money allowed you to live a comfortable lifestyle.

“You dishonestly failed to reveal you had a partner, with whom you had a considerable combined income. You knew precisely what you were doing.

“You brazenly asserted that you were a single parent and that brazenness was the feature of your defence in front of a jury.

“The time has clearly come for you to go to prison.”

Morris was jailed for 12 months and received consecutive nine-month and three-month terms for breaching suspended sentences.

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