Mum faces jail after £70,000 benefit scam

Dundee Sheriff Court
Dundee Sheriff Court

A MOTHER who managed to scam £70,000 in benefits in less than four years was today (Tuesday) told she faces jail.

Whilst living in Tayport, Sarah Alison raked in the huge sum between April 2009 and March 2013 - the equivalent of £17,500 a year.

She was initially charged with defrauding the Department for Work and Pensions out of more than £130,000 over almost ten years - but the Crown accepted her guilty plea to the lower amount.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard Alison, a mother-of-three, claimed she was a single mother living alone at an address in the town’s Linksfield.

But in reality her live-in partner, Graham Thomson, was living with her and was in full-time paid employment.

That meant she was not entitled to the income support, council tax and housing benefits she claimed from the DWP and Fife Council.

In total, she raked in £60,000 in income support and £10,000 in housing and council tax handouts.

Procurator Fiscal depute Vicki Bell told the court: “There are no previous convictions for this accused and The Crown moves for sentence.”

Alison, 34, now of St Fillans Road, Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to two charges under the Social Security Administration Act.

Defence solicitor Anne Duffy said: “I’d ask that her bail be continued ahead of sentencing, and on that occasion I will be pleading exceptional circumstances.

“There are three children - including on aged 14, and she is that child’s main carer.

“He has severe learning difficulties, ADHD and other conditions and is highly dependent on her.

“I’ve advised her that custody is almost inevitable in these proceedings.

“But given the circumstances I’d ask sentence to be deferred for her to make arrangements.”

Sheriff George Way deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports.

He said: “She needs to make plans and I will need quite a lot of information on the next occasion.

“Charge one spans a period of four years. It is a long span of time.

“I don’t want to mislead her by granting bail.

“The guidance suggests that offences above £20,000 may only be able to be dealt with by penalties on indictment, like this case.”

Alison was released on bail until her sentencing date.