A WOMAN who fraudulently claimed £54,271 in benefits over 11 years admitted to police she had been 'very naughty.'

Ruth Hersey, who was sentenced at the Isle of Wight Crown Court last Thursday, continued to claim income support and a carer's allowance after her husband inherited a £300,000 house and £90,000 in cash.

She had admitted two counts of dishonesty, after failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions about the change in her circumstances, at a previous hearing.

Roderick Blain, prosecuting, said: "The claims began in 2008 and, while they were not fraudulent from the outset, she did not tell anyone her partner had come into substantial capital.

"Over the 11 years of offending, Mrs Hersey claimed £54,271.

"She was in possession of eight separate bank accounts, only two of which were ever declared.

"She made admissions in interview, when she told police that she had been 'very naughty.'

The court heard Hersey, 60, Leeson Road, Ventnor, spent some of the money travelling to and from the Philippines at a time she claimed to have been the sole carer for her husband.

Although she was her husband's primary carer, the court heard Hersey arranged for friends and family to care for him during her trips abroad.

John Underhill, defending, said: "She wishes to make it clear she is guilty and she accepts that.

"I want to emphasise the trips to the Philippines were to visit and help care for family members who live there.

"She did not go to sun herself on the beach."

Judge Timothy Mousley said: "You committed fraud against the benefit agencies. There has been very little co-operation with probation and, in my view, this type of behaviour is typical of fraudsters who lie to get themselves out of a difficult situation."

Hersey was sentenced to ten months in prison, suspended for 24 months.

She was ordered to pay back the full amount of £54,271 and given a 60-day curfew, from 7pm to 7am.

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