Judge sends Rugby benefits cheat to jail for a year after £64,000 of claims

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A woman continued to claim housing and council tax benefits after marrying and moving from her home in Rugby.

Kim Blackwood even got her benefit payments reinstated after they were stopped because she had failed to respond to letters sent to her old address in Lever Road, Rugby.

And by the time she was caught Blackwood, 52, who had moved to Daventry, had obtained more than £64,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

Blackwood, who pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of failing to declare a change in circumstances and one of making a false representation to obtain benefit, was jailed for 12 months.

Prosecutor Shane Crawford said Blackwood had begun claiming housing and council tax benefits in the 90s, while living at the council house in Lever Road.

But she failed to notify the council and the benefit agency of a change in circumstances when she married in 2002. Mr Crawford pointed out Blackwood’s new husband had been working since December 2002.

Then in December 2005 she failed to declare she had moved to live with her husband in Daventry, ‘thus depriving another person or family from residing there.’

That came to light the following year following an anonymous tip-off.

Council officers visited the house, but Blackwood was not there and she failed to respond to letters – so her benefits were stopped.

But she brazenly challenged that in February 2007 and re-applied in her maiden name for housing benefit for the house in Lever Road, and as a result all three payments resumed.

When Blackwood was questioned by a council official in February last year she lied by asserting that her husband was an ex-boyfriend she had not even spoken to since 2000 or 2001 and for whom she had no forwarding address.

Told that the council had information that she was living in Daventry, she confessed she had moved there in 2005 but claimed she had met her husband in Daventry.

Mr Crawford added that Blackwood, who had previous convictions including making false benefit claims in 1996, had dishonestly obtained a total of £36,447 in income support, £22,199 in housing benefit and £6,027 in council tax benefit.

Robert Hodgkinson, defending, described Blackwood as ‘a pathetic figure,’ and said that when she had first begun claiming the benefits in 1992 her claims had been genuine, and only became fraudulent following her marriage in 2002.

Asking the judge to consider a suspended sentence, he said Blackwood, who works as a cleaner, could pay back the money at £100 a month.

But jailing her, Recorder William Mousley QC told her: “Since 2002 right up until the time you were caught, you were dishonestly claiming benefit of various types.

“This could all have stopped in 2006 when your benefit was stopped. But you reinstated it – and that was a fresh and fraudulent claim from the outset.

“Notwithstanding your personal mitigation, I am quite satisfied the offences have to be met by sentences of immediate imprisonment.”