Fine Quashed For ‘No Sex’ Benefit Fraud Mum
A woman who fraudulently obtained nearly £40,000 in benefits because she claimed she was not having sex with her live-in partner had her £60,000 fine quashed by the Court of Appeal today.
Three judges said that Jayne Taleb, 45, could never have paid the fine on her £150-a-week earnings and substituted a conditional discharge for a period of two years.
Taleb, of Everard Way, Cardiff, who had admitted five charges of false accounting and two charges of fraudulently claiming tax benefit, will still have to repay the £37,377 she falsely claimed over a six-year period.
Lord Justice Hooper, who was told that Taleb was being offered a loan by her mother to repay the benefits, warned her that failure to repay the money could result in civil court action.
The judges had been told that no steps had been taken by the tax authorities to recover the money from the sale of the home in Blossom Drive, Cardiff, where Taleb had lived with her boyfriend.
Taleb had told Cardiff Crown Court in February that she thought the income of boyfriend Tony Harvey did not count when she first filled in the forms for tax credit in 2000 as they were not living together.
She said she had no interest in the house she shared with Mr Harvey, their three children and her child by a different father despite paying him £43,000 when they first moved in.
She said the money was to ensure Mr Harvey would always provide a home for the daughter that was not his.
Their relationship was that of parents to the three children, one conceived while they were in a relationship and the other two on the only other two occasions she slept with him, she had told the court.
Their relationship ended after their first son was born in 1994, she said.
Recorder Mark Evans QC had told her at Cardiff Crown Court: “It seems you and Mr Harvey were living as man and wife. Quite what the sexual relationship was between you is irrelevant and I will not begin to speculate.”
He warned her that if she failed to pay the fine or repay the benefit she faced 18 months in jail.
Mr Justice Pitchford, giving the ruling of the Court of Appeal today, said Mr Harvey, as the sole legal owner, had sold the Blossom Drive home and the whereabouts of the proceeds were not known.
“Accordingly the basis on which the fines were imposed no longer apply and the fines imposed were manifestly excessive.”
He added: “It seems to us that these fines cannot stand having regard to the limited means available to the parent and it seems to us that imposing a fine is not the appropriate course to take.”