7th of June 2011 Author: Ava Jackuard
You never know who you could be getting friendly with at your local bingo club. You could be cozying up to a scammer. A benefit cheat claimed over £41,000 in government benefits while working in a bingo club to supplement her income on the sly. Suzanne Downie, aged 52, who claimed the benefit money over the course of seven years, has been given a six month prison sentence suspended for a year.
Once Ms. Downie was caught, she admitted to multiple accounts, six to be exact, of falsely claiming the benefit money.
Michael Newbold, the prosecutor, stated to the Crown Court in Portsmouth: 'She was a claimant from 1997, but worked for Peter Arnett Leisure, at Crown Bingo, as a cleaner, from 1999 to 2009 and didn't declare it.'
Dig this, apparently Downie claimed £30,800 in incapacity benefits, £8,000 in housing benefits and £2,400 council tax. There were claims that she worked 23 hours per week making £86.06 including £81.95 per week in benefits in 2004.
In September 2009, Downie found out that she was being checked out by the DWP and it seems she got a bit nervous. She submitted a written resignation letter to the bingo club. Her resignation letter stated: 'I want to leave your employment because of personal reasons. I'm hoping you don't give out information about your workers. Lots of people leave their jobs and that should be that. Otherwise it could cause unnecessary trouble.' That would certainly start my wheels turning as an employer.
Robert Bryan, Downie's defense lawyer, told the court: 'When she first made the claim, she wasn't working. She has back problems and walks with two crutches. She had credit card bills to pay off. She wasn't using the money to live a rich lifestyle.' He also stated: 'She has lived in a council flat for 15 years and she qualified for the benefits when she first applied for them. It is not as if she has lived an extravagant lifestyle, she just hoped to pay off debts and her crime was to fail to inform the DWP of her change in status.'
'I could have given you an immediate six-month prison sentence, but because you did this to pay a credit card bill, it will be suspended for 12 months.' said Recorder, Michael Norman. Downie was also given a three-month curfew requiring her to be house bound between 7pm and 7am daily.
She gets a slap on the wrist for her crime. I guess it's all in a day's work.
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