Relationship breakdown lead to £14,000 overpayment

A BREAKDOWN in a relationship was blamed for false benefit claims totalling nearly £14,000.

Pamela King, of Brook Court, Roundswell, continued to claim housing and council tax benefits after her partner found work, North Devon Magistrates heard.

King, 48, pleaded guilty to making two false statements between May 2007 and March this year totalling £13,897.76.

In her defence, lawyer Zara Svensson said King’s relationship with her partner Richard Orme had broken down following their move from Leicestershire and although still living together, they kept their finances entirely separate.

“They are living in the same house but are no longer in a relationship,” she told the court.

“She wishes she’d contacted the council when she realised that Mr Orme was earning enough money to affect her benefit. Instead, she buried her head in the sand.

“This is the sort of lady the court is unlikely to ever see again – she is ashamed of having to come to court and about these offences.”

The defence added that King, who looks after elderly people at a local care home, accepted full responsibility and had entered a guilty plea at the first occasion.

Magistrates ordered a repayment of the money and imposed a community order with a three-month curfew.

The case was one of three benefit fraud cases totalling more than £30,000 in overpayments dealt with by magistrates on Thursday.