A BENEFIT cheat mum who has repaid more than £4,600 has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Judith Castle, 48, of Brownroyd Avenue, Rawthorpe, failed to tell the authorities when her husband started living with her again and over more than five years she was paid a variety of benefits to which she was not entitled.

Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that the total overpayment of income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit amounted to just short of £42,000 between March 2004 an June 2009.

Prosecutor Nigel Hamilton said when Castle was initially interviewed in 2009 she maintained that her husband was not living with her, but after further evidence was put to her she accepted that he had moved back in.

Mr Hamilton said Castle told investigators she was sorry for what she had done.

The court heard that Castle's husband was working and his wages were being paid into a joint bank account.

The couple also made loan applications in joint names and they were both named on various household bills.

When Castle completed forms asking whether her partner lived with her she ticked the box marked no.

Last month she pleaded guilty to charges of retaining wrongful credits and failing to notify the authorities of any change in her circumstances.

Judge Jacqueline Davies read psychiatric and psychological reports which gave details about Castle past difficulties and her barrister Ruth Cranidge confirmed that she was the sole carer for her daughter.

Miss Cranidge described Castle, who had no previous convictions, as particularly vulnerable, but she said her client had managed through her efforts to pay off over £4,600.

Castle is paying off the outstanding amount at the rate of almost £60 per week.

Judge Davies told Castle that the offences were worth a custodial sentence, but she was not going to jail her immediately.

The judge said Castle's 26-week sentence would be suspended for 18 months, but she would have to do 150 hours unpaid work for the community.

Castle will be supervised by the probation service for the next 18 months.