A former Miss Great Britain competitor lied that she was single in order to falsely claim £22,000 in benefits, a court heard.
Rachel Hatton, 29, hit the headlines in 2010 after becoming the first single mother to be allowed to enter the Miss GB competition.
But yesterday the former soldier went on trial accused of pocketing thousands in benefits in an alleged two-year scam while living with her partner Nathaniel Simon.
A court heard Hatton, who had been living in the house owned by Simon, 36, told various authorities that she and her nine-year-old son lived alone and claimed income support, housing benefit and even legal aid from the public purse.
At the start of couple’s trial yesterday, a jury heard how the mum-of-one first made a false claim in May 2009 – after she failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions and South Northamptonshire Borough Council that she was living with Simon.
Northampton Crown Court heard how the pair – who appeared side by side in the dock – even took family holidays together.
Prosecuting Laura Hobson said that when Hatton was finally investigated in January this year, she claimed that Simon was living in a caravan in the back garden of the four-bedroom house in Northampton.
She said: “Mrs Hatton said Mr Simon had lived in a caravan in the garden for much of the time.
“The Crown say that this wasn’t a commercial landlord and tenant arrangement in the way that Mr Simon’s other houses were let out, but by that time the two defendants were involved in a romantic relationship.
“It is clear that the defendants were spending time together, time away from Northampton.
“They went on a number of holidays together with their children.
“Children that each had from a previous relationship, but family holidays.
“The prosecution say that particularly the financial support between these two defendants is exactly what you would expect from a relationship between two partners.
“The whole application was a sham.
“Both defendants knew that this wasn’t a genuine tenancy, both of them knew that they were living as a couple.”
The court heard that Simon, a bailiff, owned a number of properties across Northamptonshire which he rented out.
But he claimed to be renting out one property in Northampton when he was in fact living there with Hatton, who posed as a tenant after she moved there in May 2009.
It was alleged that Mr Simon paid all the utility bills on the £675-per-month property and even allowed Hatton to use his car.
Though the pair were not married, the court heard that the financial support Simon is alleged to have offered to Hatton amounted to them living as ‘husband and wife’.
Simon admitted during interview that the pair had been “romantically involved” but that their relationship stopped short of them living together.
Mrs Hobson added that Hatton had not even realised her benefits had been stopped while she was investigated.
She said: “She did express surprise that her income support had been stopped – she said she hadn’t noticed.
“It is clear that Miss Hatton was not in fact reliant on state benefits and lived quite comfortably with the support of the state because, the Crown say, she was being supported with the help of her partner.”
Hatton pleaded not guilty to four charges of fraud between May 2009 and January 2011, while Simon faced two charges dated between September 2009 and January last year.
The three-day trial continues.