A SAPLEY woman who falsely claimed more than £20,000 of benefits over four years has escaped an immediate prison sentence.

Charlotte Russell failed to report that her partner lived with her at her Sapley Park home between 2007 and 2011 while she claimed to be a lone parent to collect housing and council tax benefits and income support totalling £20,526.

Russell was convicted following a trial. On sentencing on February 12, Huntingdon magistrates told the 28-year-old that the matter was so serious that only a prison sentence was suitable, but due to Russell's circumstances and responsibility to her children, she was given a six-month sentence suspended for 24 months for four counts of failing to report her partner lived with her.

Russell was also ordered to pay a contribution of £240 to cover Huntingdonshire District Council's costs.

On the same day Mark Page, 49, of High Street, Needingworth, admitted four counts of fraud in connection with claims for housing and council tax benefit.

Page claimed that between 2008 and 2012 he was either unemployed or worked as a low-paid jeweller but HDC received a tip-off that he had his own business.

An investigation found that Page had run or had been involved in running several jewellery and precious metal businesses. Investigators also found a number of undisclosed personal bank accounts which showed Page's earnings were much higher than declared by him.

Page's fraud totalled £20,391.

Elaine Havord, mitigating, said at the time of the claims, Page was in considerable debt and his business was struggling.

Ms Havord added Page has repaid some of the money.

Page was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for two years, and was ordered to 24 months supervision and 100 hours of unpaid work. Page was also told to pay council costs of £725.

Another investigation by HDC caught Toni Splevings who told HDC that she was single and living at a Luminus residence in Queen Mary Close, Ramsey.

Splevings was found to be living with her husband, who she married in May 2011, in Peterborough and falsely claimed £535 in benefit between May 2011 and July 2011.

When Luminus started proceedings against the 24-year-old, she surrendered her tenancy with rent arrears of £1,800.

The court heard that Splevings was repaying the money that she was overpaid and rent arrears to Luminus.

Splevings was given a 24-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £275 contribution to the council's costs.