Benefit cheat jailed

Crime story
Crime story
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A St Helens woman who dishonestly claimed more than £130,000 in benefits has been jailed.

Marie Lyon, 50, falsely claimed a staggering £133,000 worth of income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit between 2002 and 2012.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that her benefit claims had not been fraudulent from the outset - but that she had then repeatedly failed to notify the authorities that she was living with her partner, Darren Laird.

A joint investigation by St Helens Council and the Department for Work and Pensions subsequently found that, during the 10-year period, Lyon, of Hard Lane, had in fact only been entitled to £23,000 in tax credits.

Lyon, who initially protested her innocence before pleading guilty before Liverpool Crown Court, lived “a comfortable lifestyle” throughout that time, making regular cash withdrawals, the court was told.

Steven Swift, defending, argued that the fraud had not been professionally planned and said his client was “in a state of extreme distress” because of the impact of her actions on her 11-year-old daughter.

Recorder Suzanne Goddard jailed Lyon for eight months.

She said: “I’m quite satisfied that this fraud was not motivated by any great need on your behalf. It’s a very serious matter and only immediate custody can be justified.”

For a full report, see next week’s St Helens Reporter.