Benefits cheat, 38, has to pay back £40,000…. with just £5 a WEEK

June 23, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

A benefit cheat has been ordered to pay back £40,000 at just a fiver a week – giving her 154 YEARS to clear her debt.

Mum-of-two Maria Hassall will have to reach the age of 192 before taxpayers finally get their money back.

Grasping Hassall, 38, applied for income support, housing benefit and council tax relief because she was unemployed and single.

But she carried on pocketing handouts for six years after her husband moved back in with her and got a job, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Hassall has arranged to pay the money back to the Plymouth City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

However the court heard officials have ordered her to hand over just £5 week – meaning she won’t pay off the mammoth debt for another 8,000 weeks or 153 years and eight months.

Her barrister Will Willden said: “She buried her head in the sand. The money is being recovered by the appropriate authorities – it will take some time to pay back.”

Judge Paul Darlow replied: “It is £5 a week to recover £40,000. You do the sums, Mr Willden.”

The court heard that investigators spoke to neighbours, looked at the couple’s finances and the work records of Hassall’s husband to establish they lived together.

Mr Willden claimed she was in poor health and her daughter also “had difficulties”.

Hassall admitted pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information she was under a legal duty to provide between 2007 and 2013.

She was handed a 20-week prison sentence suspended for two years.

Judge Darlow said he was sparing her jail on account of her two children and her previous good character.

He told her: “It would have been pretty obvious that when your husband moved back in that your benefits were no longer payable.”

Hassall, of Plymouth, was also given a 12-week curfew and ordered to pay #400 prosecution costs.

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