A Batley pensioner accused of claiming benefits while working said she took the job to combat loneliness.

Jacqueline Hobbs, 67, of Arncliffe Road, fought back tears as she admitted to Kirklees Magistrates’ Court receiving £4,000 in benefits while working part-time as a cleaner.

The court heard Mrs Hobbs had been working for New Life Cleaning for around 10 hours a week.

Peter Hampson told in mitigation how Hobbs had not been fraudulent from the outset but had taken on the cleaning work not out of financial gain but to combat loneliness.

He told how she had lost her husband of 30 years and sought the social aspect of working and is currently suffering from depression.

Prosecutor Alex Bosman said Hobbs claimed £4,277.56 between November 2011 to February 2014.

She initially claimed she had notified the benefits agency and was told because she was working less than 16 hours a week it would not affect her benefits but no details of this contact could be verified.

She pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify change of circumstances affecting benefit.

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Magistrates saw leniency on Mrs Hobbs and ordered a conditional discharge for 12 months.

The chairman of the bench told the defendant: “If we were to follow our sentencing guidelines it would result in a community order.

“We are going to depart from the guidelines because of your health and because most community orders are not suitable.”

Hobbs, who was shaking as she left the court, was ordered to continue repaying the outstanding balance of overpaid benefits and fined £85 costs.