Benefits Cheat Escapes Jail Sentence

A benefits cheat who falsely claimed income support of almost £50,000 has escaped jail and will take 106 years to pay back the cash.

Mother of three Lee-Anne Jennings, 42, from Southampton claimed the money for nearly five years but did not tell the Department for Work and Pensions her husband had moved back in.

She is now paying it back voluntarily at £9 a week, which will take 106 years, the Southern Daily Echo reported.

A Southampton Crown Court official said today that Jennings admitted that she had failed to notify the DWP of a change of circumstances between 2004 and 2009.

She received an 18-week sentence suspended for 18 months coupled with 150 hours community service at a charity shop one day a week, because of poor health.

No order was made to pay the money back as Jennings did not have the means to pay.

Judge Derwin Hope said if he sent her to prison, her two younger children would have to go into care, the paper said.

Jennings began claiming for income support on the basis of being a single parent after her husband, Roy, left her in 2000.

But four years later they began living together again and she failed to tell the authorities, who eventually found out after a tip-off.