A MOTHER who illegally obtained just over £36,500 in benefits over 10 years has avoided a prison sentence after a judge heard her husband was suffering from cancer.
Karen Briggs, 40, of Pennine Gardens, Linthwaite, admitted claiming income support for a single parent, despite the fact she later lived with and then married Craig Briggs.
The mother-of-three also failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions that she had a job as a travel adviser and was being paid between £319 and £571 a month.
Recorder Peter Kelson QC, sitting at Bradford Crown Court, was told that Briggs eventually married her partner in May, 2000, but they had been living together, on and off, since 1994.
Briggs, who had no previous convictions, admitted six charges of making false representations to obtain benefits. She asked for 453 similar matters to be considered.
She is repaying the money at £75 a month.
Briggs, who has twins aged nine and a child from a previous relationship aged 12, broke down in tears as her barrister, Sarah Barlow, said Mr Briggs was undergoing chemo-therapy.
Miss Barlow said Briggs's claim had been legal to start with. The money had not been used to pay for a lavish lifestyle.
She said Briggs may have been entitled to some of the money because of her on-off relationship with her partner.
Because of Briggs' distressed state Recorder Kelson interrupted Miss Barlow's mitigation address to confirm that he was willing to suspend the prison sentence because of Briggs's husband's condition.
"Your husband's condition I find to be an exceptional matter," he told Briggs.
"It would just be inhuman if I overlooked that.
"You are of good character and I think the less I say the better. You don't need a lecture from me."
Briggs was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the offences, but the sentence was suspended for two years.
"I have no doubt at all that you will never trouble the courts again," Recorder Kelson told her.
"You must understand I'm taking an exceptional course. For all my feelings of sympathy for your children, I would have sent you to prison but for the exceptional circumstances."