"Sad" case of benefit cheat widow
11:00am Sunday 16th September 2012 in News
A 59-year-old widow was given a suspended jail sentence after admitting failing to declare savings of more than £32,000 when she applied for income support.
Beryl Prest, 59, of Church Close, Begelly, Kilgetty, was given a two-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months at Haverfordwest magistrates court, and ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid community work and pay £100 costs.
She admitted two charges of failing to declare savings on applications for income support in June 2001 and July 2002.
An investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions found Prest had failed to declare almost £24,000 from the sale of her house at Broadmoor following the death of her lorry driver husband in 1999.
Prest also failed to declare more than £8,000 in savings she had from elsewhere.
She was overpaid £6,330.75 in benefits as a result.
The court heard Prest lived in a rented caravan while waiting for council housing and had claimed income support for 12 years.
Matthew Raggett, for the defence, said Prest did not realise having savings would affect her benefits and that there was no evidence to suggest Prest had led an extravagant lifestyle.
District judge Vivian Manning-Davies said the case was both sad and serious – sad because of Prest’s circumstances and serious because of the amount of money involved.
He said there were three aggravating factors in the case because it was fraudulent from the start, involved a period of 12 years and an overpayment of more than £6,000.
He added: “I suspect you have had a difficult life since 1999.”