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Mum avoids jail sentence over false benefit claims
12:02pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
A young mother who took holidays and drove an Audi A3 while falsely claiming benefits has narrowly avoided being sent to prison by Skipton magistrates.
Amy Howsen, 25, received just under £6,500 in benefits while her partner, with whom she lived in Otley Road, Skipton, earned £69,000, the court heard on Friday.
Magistrates told Howsen they had considered a prison sentence, but believed she had realised she had done wrong.
Instead, they gave her a 12-month community order with supervision, 200 hours unpaid work and a two month curfew, from 9pm to 7am. She will also have to pay court costs of £300 and a victims surcharge of £60.
Howsen had made false claims to get income support, employ- ment support allowance and council tax benefit, having declared that she had no partner and lived alone.
Lisa Shepherd, prosecuting for Craven District Council, said: “It might be too far to say it was a lavish lifestyle, but this was someone who didn’t have to worry about money.
“She had an Audi registered in her name, she enjoyed meals out and foreign holidays.”
Howsen, 25, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three charges of dishonestly producing a false statement to obtain social security benefit and one count of dishonestly failing to notify change of circumstances to gain social security benefit.
Miss Shepherd said Howsen had claimed she lived only with her young son, but it became false when she moved to Otley Road with Mr Butler in January 2012.
The investigation involved surveillance at the house and investigations, which revealed she and Mr Butler were in a partnership.
When interviewed, Howsen said she had separated from Mr Butler before the birth of her son and now barely spoke to him. She said they “didn’t really get on” and he did not pay towards the upkeep of the baby.
Miss Shepherd said Howsen had knowledge of the benefits system and was aware changes in circumstances needed to be reported.
Further investigation revealed the defendant was the registered owner of an Audi A3 and that £69,000 had been paid into Mr Butler’s account in ten months from February 2012.
The bench was told Mr Butler had bought her the Audi, but he put no money into the running of the family.
Howsen was full of remorse and distraught by the proceedings, the court was told.
In mitigation, Helen Oates said she had not felt entirely secure in her relationship and had believed it could end at any time. She had taken steps to protect her child and had been naive.