A benefits cheat grandmother who swindled £40,000 from the taxpayer has been given a staggering – 83 YEARS to pay it back.
Mother-of-three Sheryl Tolley-Thornton, 42, would have to live until she was 125 years old to possibly settle her debt.
Tolley-Thornton, from Coundon, Coventry, falsely claimed £39,979 between 2003 and 2008.
She pleaded guilty to one count of benefit fraud at Coventry Crown Court.
Tolley-Thornton was ordered to pay back just £10-a-week, given a 32-week prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
Recorder Nicholas Syfret QC told her: ”Forty thousand pounds is a great deal of money and you knew that you were not entitled to it for a period of five-and-a-half years.
”There can be no doubt that the offence passes the custody threshold. Given the length of time and the amount of money involved, it would have been 12 months after a trial.
”But I am able to suspend it because your remorse is genuine, you are paying the money back, you have a significant responsibility to your children and grandchild, and because you are fundamentally a decent person.”
Tom Schofield, prosecuting, told the court scrounger Tolley-Thornton began claiming income support 13 years ago in 1997.
He said: ”This was legitimate but she failed to tell the DWP in 2003 when she began receiving a private Land Rover pension, worth about £700-a-month, following the death of her ex-husband.”
Ekwall Tiwana, defending, said Tolley-Thornton had acted ”out of ignorance”.
He added: ”She should have known. It was reckless. She is very well thought of at work.”
Benefit fraud costs the country around £1billion each year.