A MUM has avoided jail after claiming more than £20,000 in benefits by lying about her circumstances.
Marie Jolly was handed a suspended prison sentence over the deception which she carried out for three years before the offending came to light.
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard Jolly, of Gadbury Fold, Atherton, failed to inform authorities of her change of circumstance when she moved in her new partner in July 2009.
The mum-of-four continued to obtain Council Tax, Job Seekers Allowance and Income Support even when she married in 2012.
This totalled up to £20,103.34 claimed overall.
Prosecuting Katie Beattie told the court Jolly initially denied the fraud and only agreed when evidence of her marriage certificate was produced.
Defending Andrew Stock said Jolly had a troubled background.
He added the defendant had previously been involved in an abusive previous relationship with the father of her children and was struggling financially.
Mr Stock explained Jolly, 38, initially had concerns that if she shared information of her new partner and he thehave left she would once again be left in financial difficulty.
He added: “Things just spiralled out of control.
“But genuine remorse has been shown on behalf of the defendant and genuine regret.
“This is someone who didn’t set out to do this and isn’t somebody who did it to fund a lavish lifestyle.
“It’s someone who dealt with the situation very poorly and has had to accept the consequences.”
Jolly is currently repaying the money monthly. She was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months and was given a curfew for 12 weeks, 8pm until 6am.
Jolly was also ordered to pay costs of £85 and £80 victim surcharge.