Home » Judicial » UK – Woman, 62, Spared Jail for £42,000 Benefits Fraud

A ZIMBABWEAN woman concealed her savings, employment and rental income whilst dishonestly obtaining more than pound42,000 in benefits she was not entitled to, a UK court heard this week.

Patricia Bandura, 62, was given a four month jail sentence suspended for 12 months, when she appeared at Leicester Crown Court.

She admitted five counts of benefit fraud relating to the jobseekers’ allowance, which later became the employment support allowance, as well as housing and council tax benefits, on various dates between 2010 and June last year.

The court heard that Bandura was not eligible to claim state benefit because she had capital in excess of the pound16,000 threshold allowed.

She was also receiving $2,500 USA dollars a month from the rental of two properties she owned in Zimbabwe.

Esther Harrison, prosecuting, said that at one stage Bandura had pound22,000 in one of her bank accounts – which she failed to declare to the authorities.

Bandura was also working as a carer for a charitable organisation during some of that time, which she failed to notify her local authority about.

When interviewed in August last year, she made “full admissions” and also confessed she had also received pound6,000 from her partner the previous month.

Bandura, of Racecourse Mews, Loughborough, now faces having to repay all the money she dishonestly claimed, amounting to pound42,164

She is due to have her assets investigated before a proceeds of crime confiscation hearing on June 10.

Alex Young, mitigating, said Bandura had no previous convictions and owned up to her wrongdoing “at the first opportunity.”

Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: “It would be inappropriate to send her to prison immediately the main punishment will be in recouping the money from her.”

He told Bandura: “For a period of time you dishonestly claimed benefits you weren’t entitled to.

“You were very frank and open when you were interviewed. You’re in your 60’s, are of previous good character and have had hardships in your life.

“You’re not a sophisticated benefit fraudster and although it’s not appropriate to send you immediately to prison today, these offences remain serious.

“I bear in mind your honesty in pleading guilty at the first opportunity.”

Source : New Zimbabwe