A CARE worker from St Austell fraudulently claimed more than £7,500 in benefits during a "selfish episode" in her life where she put herself before her two young children, a court has heard.
Over a three-year period Sindy Wilton, of Belmont Road, repeatedly lied to claim money she was not entitled to. Last Friday, at Truro Magistrates Court, Wilton pleaded guilty to 12 charges of failing to notify the authorities about changes in her circumstances and providing false information about her income and employment.
Kingsley Keat, prosecuting on behalf of Cornwall Council, told the court in 2009 Wilton fraudulently claimed income support while receiving maternity pay from her ex-employer Morleigh Limited. Over the following three years, her web of deceit deepened as she continued to lie to the council and the DWP, the court heard.
"Through the period of her claims there were a number of opportunities she could have informed the authorities of her situation but she failed to do so," Mr Keat said.
"In total she claimed £7,669.87 she would not have been entitled to."
Mr Keat said Wilton fraudulently claimed income support, council tax benefit, housing benefit and job seekers allowance.
"On October 24, 2012, she advised the council she started work a month ago, only for seven hours a week. She said the job had ceased and she had not been paid for the work," he told the court.
He continued: "It transpires this was not in fact the truth. She had worked since May 2012 for an average of 16 hours a week and was paid money each month."
Wilton's lies were eventually uncovered following a joint-investigation by Cornwall Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Jeremy Leaning, defending, said Wilton admitted she had put herself before her two young children to satisfy her "selfish needs".
"Miss Wilton not only came to enter an unfettered guilty plea at the first available opportunity, she wants to bring candour and offer self-criticism to this case," Mr Leaning told the court. "She sees these offences as the result of a selfish episode in her life."
During the midst of her fraudulent claims Wilton had escaped from an abusive relationship and was now trying to turn her life around, Mr Leaning told the court.
"She works extremely hard and is very well regarded by her employer," he said. "She works at least 50 hours a week and often works unsociable hours in a nursing home. She is trying to make something of her life.
"She no longer receives housing benefit and has no intention to claim for it."
Wilton was handed a £200 fine, a £20 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £100 towards costs.