A MARRIED couple who pretended to split up to get benefit received jail sentences at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday (9 March).
Carla and Glenn Jeffries, of Colne, East Tilbury, had each admitted the offences at an earlier hearing before magistrates a district judge who referred the matter to Crown Court for sentence..
The court heard Mrs Jeffries had started claiming Housing, Income Support and Council Tax benefits after claiming her husband had left her and their child in 2007.
She resubmitted the claims in 2008, but and later that year she was visited by a Thurrock Council officer and completed a review form who but the officer became suspicious and an investigation started.
Mrs Jeffries was interviewed under caution and after initially refuting the fact that they were still living as man and wife, she admitted it. Mr Jeffries also admitted they had not separated and they had planned the fraud together in advance of the first claim.
As a result of the investigation an assessor from Thurrock Council decided that Mrs Jeffries was not entitled to Housing benefit or Council Tax benefit from 14 May 2007. An assessor from the Department for Work and Pensions decided Mrs Jeffries was not entitled to Income Support from 9 May 2007.
Mrs Jeffries faced four charges and Mr Jeffries two.
The overpayments are: Income Support £4,185.54; Housing Benefit £15,125.98; and Council Tax benefit £2,415.73, making a total of £21,727.25.
Mrs Jeffries, aged 29, was sentenced to 20 weeks per offence — to run concurrently — and told she would serve ten weeks. She was also advised that if during the further ten weeks any offences were committed then she would serve the rest of the period.
Mr Jeffries, aged 37, was less involved and took a more passive role. He was also a carer for their autistic son and there was a need to ensure he is provided for, along with the other two children. His 20-week prison sentence was suspended for 12 months and he was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work as part of a 12 month Supervision Order.