Benefit fraud mum fails in bid to reduce jail sentence

A MOTHER sentenced to 15 months in prison for benefit fraud has failed in her appeal against her sentence. Joanne Lisa Tack, 26, of Barnabas Court, Huntingdon, pleaded guilty at Peterborough Crown Court in November to five offences connected to benefit fr

A MOTHER sentenced to 15 months in prison for benefit fraud has failed in her appeal against her sentence.

Joanne Lisa Tack, 26, of Barnabas Court, Huntingdon, pleaded guilty at Peterborough Crown Court in November to five offences connected to benefit fraud. She would have been entitled to the benefits if her boyfriend had not moved in with her, the court heard.

Last week, lawyers argued that her jail term should be cut because she had a troubled upbringing and also had an alcohol problem and was depressive.

Mr Justice Walker, sitting with Sir Richard Curtis, was told that the woman had spent the money on household goods, rather than luxury items, and her elder daughter had special educational needs.

But, despite pleas for clemency, the judge said Tack had carried out the fraud over a long period of time and government funds were not a "bottomless pit".

Dismissing arguments that the sentence should be cut to around nine months, the judge said 15 months could not be described as "manifestly excessive".

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The court heard Tack - who before being sentenced had agreed to pay back the money she owed at a rate of £17 per week - applied for a Council Tax rebate, housing benefit and income support in March 1998 when she was genuinely entitled to the money.

But her circumstances changed in December 1999 when her boyfriend moved in with her and she failed to tell the authorities.

Her deception, which involved her signing declarations that she was living alone, continued for four and a half years.

In all, she received more than £30,000 in income support, more than £13,000 in housing benefits and more than £2,000 in council tax rebates.

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