A GYPSY mother-of-nine has admitted claiming over £63,000 worth of fraudulent benefits as a single mum – while living with her partner in their caravan.
Chavelle Price, 33, claimed she was a single mum when she was actually living with her husband Patrick on a travellers site which featured on Channel 4’s ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ last year.
Department for Works and Pensions investigators revealed Price had claimed income support saying she was unable to work due to a shoulder injury and also stating that she was single.
But she was caught out when planning applications made to South Staffordshire Council to build private gypsy caravan sites for Patrick’s family at a site in Wolverhampton were made in both her and her husband’s name.
Price also claimed that she was living in her parent’s caravan and had split up with her husband in 1997. However all of her nine children had Patrick listed as the father on their birth certificates between 1997-2008.
Appearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday Price pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming benefits between June 3 1999 and December 10 2010.
In a three minute hearing Price, wearing a blue long-sleeved T-shirt, blue jeans and black shoes, with her brown hair tied up in a clip, spoke only to confirm her name and plead guilty.
Malcolm Fowler, defending, requested the case be adjourned for a pre sentence report to be produced.
Price, who has previous convictions for fraudulently obtaining goods in 2003 and 2001, will be sentenced on October 12.
Harbinder Lally QC, prosecuting, indicated the prosecution will be looking for compensation under the proceeds of crime act.
Judge John Warner. said: “I understand the amount is over £63,000.
“I am adjourning your case until 12th October so that a pre sentence report can be produced.
“If you do not appear back here then you may be liable to be prosecuted again.
“You are free to go on unconditional bail after you have seen the probation officer.”
The investigation came to light after the DWP received an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public claiming she was married.
Price married Patrick Dunne in October 1995 but she claimed they wed in February 1997 – also claiming their marriage only lasted two weeks.
And when confronted by investigators as to why Dunne was listed as the dad of all nine children, she replied that she had permission from Patrick to put his name down as the father – due to their strict Catholic faith.
Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said after the case:”Benefit thieves are costing the taxpayer almost GBP1billion per year.
“This money is intended to help those most in need not line the pockets of criminals.
“We will continue to tackle this problem at the front line but also at the root by reforming the benefits system to make it less open to abuse.”
A report in a local newspaper also reported how an application for the gypsy site in the Coven Heath site was granted on appeal to “Patrick and Chavelle Dunne for green belt land.” following a six-year battle with the council.
The family also won a fight to keep a permanent kitchen, bathroom and dayroom built on the site, local media reported.
After the Coven Heath site was featured on the Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, the site was by terrorised by attackers who drove two stolen lorries through their site smashing up mobile homes.
Mr Dunne, who was quoted at the time as having nine children, said: “This is attempted murder. We are fortunate to get away with our lives but I fear it was just a warning.”