Dagenham Mum of three hides husband’s existence to claim £150,000 in benefits

Snaresbrook Crown Court

Snaresbrook Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A mum-of-three will avoid jail so she can look after her disabled son, despite claiming more than £150,000 in a benefits scam.

Margaret Philiips, 56, of Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, hid the existence of her husband, Abidoan Raji, for 10 years to claim the money, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard on Friday.

Despite being married, she told the authorities she was the sole carer for her children, including an 18-year-old son with learning difficulties.

Margaret began claiming income support from the government in 2002, as well as pocketing housing and tax benefit from Newham Council in 2005.

She also applied for tax credits from the council, the court heard.

Judge William Kennedy told Margaret she deserved jail, but agreed to a 12-month suspended sentence in light of her poor health and difficult family circumstances.

The court also heard how Margaret’s daughter was raising a child alone.

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Judge Kennedy said: “You have a great deal of difficulty of your own – you are in poor health.

“But more importantly the care you provide for your son is of paramount importance.

“He will need your assistance for the rest of his life and it is in those circumstances that I am prepared to suspend your sentence and attach no further penalties as it would be wholly inappropriate.

“You understand that you have had £150,000 of public money to which you are not entitled and in those circumstances I should send you to prison today.

“But I am tremendously concerned about the effect on your family and I need to see that information to deal fairly with you.”

Margaret admitted five counts of dishonest representation for obtaining benefit and two counts of being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity undertaken with a view to obtaining tax credits.

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