Benefit cheat claimed £17k

AN Eastwood woman has been handed a suspended prison sentence and forced to do 150 hours unpaid community service after falsely claiming over £17,000 in benefits.

Dionne Gilbert, 46, of Sherwood Rise, Eastwood, pleaded guilty to three charges of producing or furnishing false documents to obtain benefit.

She claimed council tax benefit and housing benefit over two years between December 2008 and February 2011, saying she was a single parent with three young children. In fact, she was living with her landlord, Darron Wilson, who was also her partner.

Gilbert attended a hearing at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court last week and entered a guilty plea to all three charges.

The District Judge said it was a ‘significantly dishonest’ fraud and ‘one of the worst offences of its type’.

He said the benefits system ‘existed to help people at the bottom end of the scale who cannot exist without it’ and ‘dishonest and rapacious’ people like Gilbert were abusing the system.

On top of the community service, she was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, to run concurrently.

Gilbert was also ordered to pay Broxtowe Borough Council £350 legal costs within 28 days.

The District Judge said that he hoped the sentence would give Ms Gilbert ‘pause to think’, and that she should ‘take no pride in using the benefits system to pay for a lifestyle she did not deserve’.

He warned her that if she committed any further offences during the next twelve months or if her unpaid community service was to prove unsatisfactory she could be brought back before the court, which could result in her being given a full custodial sentence.