A benefit fraudster who claimed nearly £30,000 she wasn’t entitled to has been sentenced to 200 hours' community service.

Nichola Karen Whitlam-Bennett of King William’s Way, Castletown, failed to declare work she was doing or money that she was receiving from former partners.

The offences were committed over a three-year period and led to a total overpayment in benefits of £29,828.

The 39-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of benefit fraud and has started paying back the money at a rate of £30 per week, deducted from benefits.

Prosecuting advocate Barry Swain told the court that the defendant’s benefits claim had not been fraudulent from the outset, but she had failed to tell the Department of Health and Social Care when her circumstances changed. 

Mr Swain said that, in August 2022, the DHSC had received information regarding the defendant working and receiving maintenance, which led to an investigation being launched.

Whitlam-Bennett’s failure to declare money she was receiving from two former partners, between July 2018 and November 2019, had resulted in her being overpaid £13,087 in income support that she was not entitled to.

Between November 2019 and February 2023, Whitlam-Bennett also failed to declare work she had done for five companies.

This resulted in her being overpaid £16,741 in Employed Person’s Allowance.

Defence advocate Stephen Wood handed in letters of reference for his client which he said showed her true character.

‘We are not dealing with a lady who’s set out to defraud the system,’ said the advocate.

‘She undertook some employment but it was relatively brief and she didn’t declare that.

‘She would have been entitled to something but not everything that she received.’

Mr Wood said that the defendant was a single mother with two children, though one was now an adult.

He continued: ‘She works hard for them all and it’s clear from the references she is well thought of.

‘She sometimes works six days a week and doesn’t have a lot of free time on her hands.’

Mr Wood went on to ask for credit to be given for his client’s guilty pleas and said that a probation report had deemed her remorse as genuine, and had also assessed her as a low risk of reoffending and harm to others.

He also asked the court to consider her childrens' article eight human rights and the fact that Whitlam-Bennett had begun paying the money back.

Deputy High Bailiff Rachael Braidwood told the defendant: ‘It should be obvious that any additional money should be declared when you are in receipt of a benefit.’

Whitlam-Bennett was also ordered to pay £125 prosecution costs, at a rate of £10 per week.