A MOTHER-of-three who cheated the taxpayer out of nearly £20,000 in benefit claims has been jailed for eight months.
Susanne Wylie’s lawyer argued that she should be spared jail because she suffered from Crohn’s disease and had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
However, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch said that no sentence other than prison was appropriate to mark the gravity of her crime.
He told the first offender yesterday: “You defrauded the public of a significant amount of money over a lengthy period.
“I’ve considered whether your present circumstances, including the health matters mentioned in the report and other circumstances outlined by your solicitor, are sufficient to keep you out of prison but I’ve come to the conclusion that they are not.
“Following High Court guidelines and the gravity of this charge means I must deal with it by way of a sentence of imprisonment.”
Wylie, of Ochilview Square, Armadale, earlier pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge of benefit fraud.
The 44-year-old admitted knowingly failing to tell officials of the Department for Work and Pensions of changes affecting her entitlement to benefit.
Livingston Sheriff Court heard that Wylie claimed she was a single mum living alone when in fact her partner had moved in with her and was contributing to household bills.
As a result of her deceit she received £19,500 in Income Support payments to which she wasn’t entitled between November 2010 and June 2013.
She was originally charged with defrauding the system of £44,624, but pleaded to a reduced amount on the morning she was due to stand trial.
Lyndsey Armstrong, prosecuting, said Benefits Agency officials carried out an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip-off.
She said Wylie had started claiming the benefit in 2002 for herself and her three children.
The investigation revealed that from November 17, 2010 until June 13, 2013 her partner had been living at the address and had been contributing towards household bills.
Kate Fabian, defending, said Wylie had expressed “remorse and regret” for neglecting her duty to inform the Benefits Agency of the change in her circumstances.
She added: “In terms of culpability this is a case where Miss Wylie has buried her head in the sand.
“It was not fraudulent at the outset but as matters progressed she should really have informed them.”
She claimed Wylie had paid rent and other household bills but her partner had paid for Sky television, which she watched, and had bought items of furniture for the home.