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Colne soldier's wife defrauded benefits
A DISHONEST mother-of-two who married a soldier but kept quiet about it and got £20,000 in handouts she wasn't entitled to, has been fined £1,000.
Kelly Wilson-Latham, 35, had wed Burnley-born Thomas Wilson in February 2010, but didn't tell the Department for Work and Pensions or Pendle Borough Council she had a husband and he was working.
Wilson-Latham made a further claim for cash about 17 months after the wedding, deliberately not letting on she had married and when later interviewed, told the DWP she was single, Burnley Crown Court had heard.
The hearing was told Mr Wilson lived on base at Catterick, returning to Wilson-Latham's White Grove, Colne, home at weekends and when on leave. But Wilson-Latham claimed they were not living together as husband and wife and that she didn't know she had to notify the authorities about the marriage.
When fraud investigators from the DWP had gone to her address in September 2011, they found letters addressed to Mr Wilson, wedding and birthday cards and a booking form for a holiday to Sharm El Sheikh. Mr Wilson's visa card was in the defendant's handbag.
Wilson-Latham had pleaded not guilty to three allegations of dishonestly falling to give prompt notification of a change in circumstances, involving income support, between February 26, 2010 and July 12, 2011, and council tax benefit and housing benefit between February 26, 2010 and September 28, 2011 and one count of fraud, regarding employment support allowance, between July 12 and September 28, 2011. The defendant, who is paying the money back, was convicted yesterday of all counts and sobbed in the dock. She is of previous good character.
Sentencing the defendant, who suffers from a bad back, Recorder Roderick Carus, QC, told her: "I agree with what the prosecution said, that you are ordinarily a very decent sort of person. I think what happened here is, bearing in mind your unhappy background, you met a young man who charmed you, and to your surprise, he showed a lot of interest in you. You fell in love.
"There was a time when you didn't dare risk destroying the relationship and your future together by causing him to bear the costs of your support and so you deferred in the hope there might come the right time. Of course, having deferred it, it became very difficult then to come clean."