Benefits cheat is spared jail sentence
A WOMAN who falsely claimed more than £8,600 in benefits has been spared prison.
Yvonne Semmens, of Jewell Crescent, Barnstaple, was found guilty of three counts of falsely claiming benefits at trial on July 22, but the case was adjourned for sentencing until Tuesday, July 31.
Semmens, who maintains her not guilty plea, claimed £8,638.39 in benefits between June 24 2010 and September 22 2011.
Sonia Croft, for the prosecution told the court how Semmens failed to report that she was living together as husband and wife with Craig Semmens, something she knew would affect her entitlement to benefits.
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Tony Dart, for the defence, told the court how Semmens was a woman of good character, having reached the age of 57 with no previous convictions.
Mr Dart said his client, who has a string of serious health problems, had already started paying back the money from her Severe Disablement Allowance. He said: "She is paying £30.50 back a week, and just about managing to get by."
Mr Dart told the court how Semmens, who has not worked since 1992, suffers from osteoporosis, arthritis and tinnitus and that prison would be extremely difficult for her.
Semmens was given three six-week prsion sentences to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months.