A benefits cheating grandma who was so afraid of her crimes catching up with her that she missed her own son’s funeral has been spared jail.
Ex-pat Patricia Humpage, 73, eventually returned from Malta to her home in Squire Court, South Shore, where she admitted conning almost £50,000 of pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit from the UK state.
“You effectively buried your head in the sand and did nothing about it.”Recorder Michael Blakey
Preston Crown Court heard Humpage had started claiming the benefits after separating from her husband in 2005 following what was described as an “unhappy marriage.”
But after the marital home was sold Humpage was handed a lump sum of £60,000 she had not expected to receive.
Rather than reporting her change of circumstances to the DWP, Humpage “buried her head in the sand” and allowed her claim for benefits to continue fraudulently.
From 2005 to 2010 she clocked up £49,432.65 in welfare payments she was not entitled to.
She was handed a sentence of six months custody, suspended for 12 months.
Recorder Michael Blakey, sentencing, said: “That was money you weren’t entitled to because although this was a legitimate claim in the beginning you weren’t entitled once you had received money from your matrimonial home.
“I accept you didn’t expect that money but you did get it and you should have declared it to the authorities and adjustments would have been made.
“You effectively buried your head in the sand and did nothing about it.”
The court heard Humpage had raised her family and dedicated her life to looking after other people.
Testimonials presented to the court spoke of an honest, caring person.
Recorder Blakey said: “I accept you are extremely remorseful and sorry for what you did and I will give you full credit for that.”