A former newspaper psychic who fraudulently claimed £8000 in housing benefit has been ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work.
Kathleen Coutts – known to readers of the Scottish Sun as Katie Coutts – was earning cash from online hypnotherapy, virtual gastric bands, smoking cessation and psychic readings even though she said she wasn’t working, Cupar Sheriff Court has heard.
Over a period of about 18 months she received a total of £16,000 - but claimed that the online business was actually her daughter’s and that the money was being transferred to her.
However, authorities could find no evidence of any such transaction.
Coutts (48), of 17 Mars Gardens, Wormit, had earlier admitted that between February 16, 2011, and October 6, 2012, she knowingly failed to give notification of a change of circumstances in that she was in receipt of earnings from part-time work.
Coutts was the resident psychic at the Scottish Sun for 16 years, helping people with their personal problems with her ‘psychic vibes’.
But the court heard that her employment was terminated after she fell out with a new editor and her life became ‘chaotic.’
“Being self-employed she should have had books and accounts but she didn’t,” said her solicitor, Douglas Williams.
“As a result her position became shambolic. She accepts she received income that she should have declared. She may have been entitled to benefits by some other route if she had properly declared her earnings.”
Mr Williams also said that Coutts had had bereavement issues at the time and was finding it difficult to cope on a day-to-day basis.
Passing sentence, Sheriff Charles Macnair told Coutts: “This was a significant sum of money. You are clearly someone who is capable of holding down responsible employment so you must know the significance of cheating the benefits system.”