Benefits cheat has jail term reduced by Appeal Court

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A benefits cheat who was paid £130,000 she wasn’t entitled to over 15 years has had her jail term almost halved on appeal.

Catherine Dalby initially made a genuine claim for benefits, but kept the fact she got married just months later a secret from the authorities.

Dalby, 46, of Cresswell Drive, Cottesmore, was jailed for 15 months at Lincoln Crown Court in August after she admitted failing to notify the authorities of a change in her circumstances while claiming benefits.

But her sentence was cut to eight months by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court yesterday (Thursday), who said the original term was “excessive”.

The court heard Dalby claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit for 15 years when she was not entitled to the money.

When she first made the claims, in October 1996, they were legitimate, but she married on Christmas Eve the same year and never declared it to the authorities, despite numerous opportunities to do so.

Her offending only came to light in 2011 and an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions found out about her marriage 15 years earlier.

Dalby’s lawyers argued her jail term was over the top, saying the crown court judge did not take enough account of her admission of guilt or her personal circumstances.

Allowing the appeal, Judge Anthony Morris QC, sitting with Lord Justice Toulson and Mr Justice Openshaw, said the original term was “too long” and reduced it to eight months.