Portugal error costs grandma

Blackpool Magistrates' Court
Blackpool Magistrates' Court

A grandmother illegally obtained thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money by claiming benefits while she lived abroad.

Diane Dion spent time in Portugal while claiming £6,394 in Employment Support Allowance.

Dion, 56, of John Hill Street, Marton, pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.

She was given a 12 months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs by Blackpool Magistrates.

Prosecutor, Adrian Hollamby, said Dion claimed benefits while she was absent from the UK between June 2014 and September last year. When interviewed by benefit fraud investigators she said she thought she was allowed to be absent from the country for a period of time and still claim.

David Charnley, defending, said his client, had been terrified about her court appearance.

Dion said she had looked at a Department of Work and Pensions website which said she could be out of the country for a certain period and she was never out of the UK for longer than that.

She had gone backwards and forwards between Portugal and the UK looking after family members in both countries. Dion was not working and now not claiming benefits, but relying on family. She was paying back what she owed at £50 a month.