Singleton claimed £104,000 in benefits for ‘four children’

Northampton Crown Court

A benefit cheat who swindled the taxpayer out of £104,000 after pretending to be a single mum with four children was on Tuesday given 93 YEARS to pay the money back.

Grasping Julie Kennedy, 47, told the authorities she was bringing up four children on her own.

She shamelessly pocketed around £12,000 a YEAR in benefits for almost a decade.

But while she claimed she was a struggling single mum, Kennedy was actually living with her estranged husband who had a full-time job who paid all the household bills.

Kennedy pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to notify a change in circumstances and knowingly being concerned in a fraudulent act when she appeared at Northampton Crown Court on Tuesday.

She was spared jail and ordered to pay the money back at a rate of just £22 per week.

It means she will be 140 years old before she has repaid the full amount.

Recorder Martin Jackson gave her a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered her to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

Sentencing her, Recorder Jackson said: “Your former husband was back living with you and he was working and contributing to bills and indeed supporting you.

“Many members of the public would feel those who cheat benefits should go straight to prison but I take into account that you appear to be the main carer for a difficult child of six and I have read the pre-sentence report in relation to your grandson.”

The court heard Kennedy claimed four kinds of benefits while living with her estranged husband Patrick Kennedy.

Joan Gandolfi, prosecuting, said Kennedy started claiming benefits 21 years ago after she got divorced, and was awarded the maximum amount as a single parent.

However, once investigators looked into her case, they found she had been living with her ex-husband, who was working, for the past 10 years.

Mrs Gandolfi added: “On November 11, 2011, information came to light which suggested she might be living with Patrick Kennedy, her former husband and had failed to declare it to the Department of Work and Pensions.

“His employer’s records had him living at her address, his bank held it as his address and they held a number of joint financial agreements together.”

Between April 2002 and May 2011, Kennedy claimed £41,283 in income support, £22,558 housing benefit, £4,130 council tax relief and £36,497 in child tax credits, amounting to £104,470 in just over nine years.

Kennedy, of Rectory Farm, Northants., refused to comment outside court.

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