CSA worker lied about partner's job so he could avoid payments, Plymouth court told
A WORKER at the Child Support Agency told colleagues her partner was not working so he would not have to pay maintenance, a court heard.
Michelle Cotter, aged 35, lied about his income to avoid payments of about £90 a week to the mother of a child from a previous relationship, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
He avoided payment of £5,701.50 over 63 weeks before the agency realised he had a job, the jury heard.
Krystelle Wass, opening the trial for the prosecution, said the defendant was living with Mark Cotter, who had a child from a previous relationship.
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She said the mother, who had custody of the youngster, made a claim to the CSA for maintenance payments.
Miss Wass said Michelle Cotter handled the claim on behalf of her partner.
She added that the agency asked her to provide details of his income so that the proper payment to the mother could be calculated.
Miss Wass said Michelle Cotter had "given false information to the agency" during a phone call on February 5, 2010.
She added: "She failed to declare when asked directly that he had been working since 2007 and had been in receipt of a salary."
The jury was told he was assessed as not having to pay maintenance, when it was later calculated he should have been contributing £90.50 week.
The court heard that he had a military pension, which Michelle Cotter had declared, and worked for civilian contractor VT Flagship.
Cotter, of Masefield Gardens, Honicknowle, denies three counts of fraud by dishonestly making a false representation in January and February 2010.
Jill Ball, of the CSA team which handles staff cases, said she could not recall the phone conversation she had with Michelle Cotter more than three years ago.
But she referred to a computer record she made at the time noting he "was not in receipt of any other income".
Miss Wass asked: "At any point was it mentioned that Mr Cotter had in fact been working for a company called VT Flagship since October 2007?"
Mrs Ball said: "No".
Piers Norsworthy, for the defendant, asked whether she recorded the questions she had asked.
Mrs Bull said she did not, but the query about other income was a "standard question".
The trial continues.