A mother claimed thousands of pounds in benefits – while sending her son to a top private school.
Gaye Williams, 38, pretended to be a single parent so she was eligible for £11,500 in council, housing and tax benefits.
But she was actually living a comfortable middle-class lifestyle with husband Glyn, 47, who was coining in £1,500-a-week.
Their son attended a private school and they kept two pedigree Dogues de Bordeaux dogs worth £1,000 each.
Gloucester Crown Court heard that Gaye was the ‘brains’ behind the scam, while her husband was “very hard working” with “considerable earning ability”.
At an earlier hearing she admitted three offences of obtaining benefits by dishonestly failing to disclose that her husband was living with her.
Mr Williams admitted three offences of possessing criminal property – benefit money which was claimed by his wife and paid into his account.
Yesterday Judge Jamie Tabor ordered Mrs Williams to do 180 hours unpaid work and Mr Williams to do 125 hours, telling them it was a “sad and sorry tale”.
He told Mrs Williams: “You are an intelligent woman and you decided to defraud the public, which was unnecessary. Members of the public would say it is a lot
of money – and it is.”
An earlier hearing was told how the couple were maintaining a common household, despite Mrs Williams claiming she was a single mother.
She also claimed housing and council tax benefit while living in Hempsted, Gloucester, between November 2008 and January 2009, and similar benefits from Tewkesbury Borough Council while living in the village of Highnam between March and August 2000.
The total of benefits paid by the Department of Work and Pensions, Gloucester city council and Tewkesbury Borough Council was about £11,500.
Steve Young, for Mrs Williams, said publicity of the case had caused her “distress”, adding that the private school fees had been paid by her mother and not the benefits.
He said publicity surrounding the case had made it difficult for her to find work.
“It really has had more publicity than it should have had,” he said. “Your Honour deals with other cases where there is more money involved.”
He added that the dogs had not been paid for with the benefits. He told the court that the couple’s son bought the pets with money he won at a horticultural fair.
But Judge Tabor told Mrs Williams it was unlikely publicity was the reason she could not find employment.
He said: “In fact it is because you committed serious offences.”
Judge Tabor said: “I expect the Department of Work and Pensions will get the money back in the next two or three years.”
Sabiha Pathan, defending Mr Williams, 47, told the court he had been working hard towards repayment.
Judge Tabor told him: “Your wife is an intelligent woman and she knew what she was doing.
“You knew wharf she was doing by letting her put the money in your bank account. You allowed it to happen.
“I’m quite satisfied we will not see you here again. I know this has been agony for you.”
As well as unpaid work, Mr Williams was ordered to pay back £2,500.
The court previously heard how Mr Williams was now only earning £500-a-week with a tractor company.
He amassed more than £2,500 to pay back the fraudulent cash – but his wife was unable to return any money.
She is now living off £130-a-week in benefits and couple have been evicted from their home, formerly of Oakle Street, Churcham, Glos.
Mr and Mrs Williams refused to comment as they left the court room.