A RIDING instructor thought a £100,000 divorce settlement could be kept a secret as she claimed benefits.
She received state handouts while running her riding school and caring for her horses.
By doing so 42-year-old mother-of-two Lynn Wood ended up being convicted of benefit fraud.
Wood, of Raikes Road, Thornton, admitted two charges of failing to declare her capital in the bank while she illegally claimed £9,878 in Income Support, council tax and housing benefit.
The defendant’s lawyer told magistrates Wood had lost her wealthy and idyllic rural lifestyle and ended up in the dock.
He said: “My client had a comfortable lifestyle among her horses and fields married to a successful farmer.
“Her life fell apart. It became a very acrimonious divorce. They argued about everything and injunctions flew left, right and centre.
“Eventually she received her £100,000 settlement and it is that money that brings her to court. Her genuine but wrong belief is the money did not need to be disclosed to the authorities.
“She believed the divorce court said the money was to set up a new home for herself and her children and it was nothing to do with the Department for Work and Pensions.”
The court heard the money held in five bank accounts including one abroad was not disclosed when she made her successful claim for state support over a nine month period.
The defence added: “She has now just £32,000 left.
“From that she will have to repay £9,800 to the Department for Work and Pensions.”
The court earlier heard prosecutor John Sink say an investigation into Wood’s finances revealed the five accounts one of them containing a large number of euros.
He added: “When she was interviewed she at first denied having an overseas account. She did not declare her divorce settlement but later said she believed it was her private business.
“But it should have been declared.”
Bench chairman Michael Leigh told Wood: “This was a serious offence of benefit fraud.”
Wood was given a 12-month community order.
She was also tagged with a 10-week curfew from 9pm to 6 am.
Her lawyer contested the timing of the curfew because she needed to look after her horses and give lessons at different time.
The magistrates rejected the request.