DCSIMG

Spinster’s nest egg not declared

Blackpool Magistrates Court

Blackpool Magistrates Court

A spinster with a secret golden nest-egg of savings was actually a benefits cheat who illegally obtained more than £30,000.

Caroline Smithies said she was ill and unable to work, but she failed to tell the authorities she had inherited tens of thousands of pounds, a court was told.

Smithies, 56, of North Promenade, St Annes, pleaded guilty to three offences of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefits before magistrates.

She was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £85 costs with £20 victims’ surcharge by the bench at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

Alison Quanbrough, prosecuting, said in August 2009 Smithies applied for benefits stating she was sick and unable to work.

She received employment support allowance and council tax and housing benefits from Fylde Borough Council, the court was told.

But this year benefit fraud investigators discovered she had savings in excess of the allowed amount.

Over four years Smithies had illegally obtained £30,923 in benefits.

John McLaren, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, had been a home help for more than 30 years, but in 2009 she suffered kidney failure and could not work.

When she applied for benefits she did not consider her savings.

She got about £30,000 from her mother who died in 2008.

Smithies, who had depression and suffered from a phobia of travelling out of the Fylde area, had now repaid all the money she had illegally obtained.

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