Probation officer in �10k benefit fraud

A SUFFOLK probation officer who received �10,000 in benefits that she wasn’t entitled to could lose her job, a court has heard.

Sheridan Guest failed to notify the authorities about a change in her circumstances which affected the amount of carer’s allowance that she received, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Her barrister Nicholas Fooks told the court that if she was sentenced to a custodial sentence or a community sentence, Guest, who was currently suspended, could lose her job as a probation officer in a prison and asked Judge Peter Fenn to consider imposing a conditional discharge which would allow her to continue working.

The case was adjourned until the middle of October to see if Guest would be allowed to keep her job if she was sentenced to a community order and for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Guest, 51, of Lancaster Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, admitted dishonestly failing to notify a change in her circumstances between 2004 and 2008.

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Jonathan Turner, prosecuting, said that Guest had been overpaid �10,000 in benefits and had so far repaid �260 of that sum at the rate of �20 a week on a voluntary basis.

He said that from the prosecution point of view, it would be better for Guest to receive a sentence that would allow her to continue working and repay the money she had been overpaid.

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The court heard that Guest, who has no previous convictions, had applied for carer’s allowance in 1993 in respect of some of her children, who were disabled. The claim had been genuine but several years later Guest had failed to notify the authorities about a change in her income which affected her benefit payments.

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