Grimsby benefit cheat Angela Elshaw (48) fiddled 22k to repay her debts
BENEFIT cheat Angela Elshaw is waiting to find out if she will end up in prison – after fiddling nearly £22,400 of taxpayers’ money to pay off debts.
She was jailed for 12 weeks by Grimsby magistrates but, within about 20 minutes, she was freed on unconditional bail pending an appeal against the sentence.
Elshaw, 48, of Bransdale Way, Grimsby, admitted two offences of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to benefit and another of making a false statement, on dates between May 31, 2009, and December 11 last year.
Pippa Sowerby, prosecuting for the Department for Work and Pensions, said Elshaw fraudulently claimed £22,395 in Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
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The claim was at first legitimate but later became dishonest, said Miss Sowerby.
Elshaw and her husband, Michael, separated for a time and she claimed benefits as a person who was living alone.
But there was later a reconciliation between the pair and he moved back into the family home, said Miss Sowerby. Elshaw did not tell the authorities that this had happened, and used the extra cash from wrongly-paid benefits to help pay off debts.
Roy Foreman, mitigating, said Elshaw made early admissions and did not set out to make a fraudulent claim. The prosecution accepted that it was originally a lawful claim.
The fraud happened over a long period but she had shown obvious remorse, had lost her good character and bore the shame of what she had done, said Mr Foreman.
Presiding magistrate Jo Walker told Elshaw: “We have considered all our sentencing options. This offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.
“It’s a large amount of taxpayers’ money and this fraud continued over a long period.”
Mr Foreman immediately gave notice of an appeal against the sentence to Grimsby Crown Court.
Elshaw, in floods of tears, was taken down to the cells while arrangements for the notice of appeal were sorted.
About 20 minutes later, she was brought back to the courtroom and allowed bail pending the outcome of the appeal. No dates were set.
As reported in the Telegraph in the last year, there have been a number of cases at Grimsby Crown Court where defendants who have fiddled much larger amounts of benefit have been given suspended prison sentences.