THE family friend of abducted schoolgirl Shannon Matthews was jailed for a year today after she admitted benefit fraud amounting to more than £35,000.
Mother-of-two Amanda Hyett admitted claiming a range of benefits while failing to tell the authorities she lived with her husband, bus driver Neil Hyett.
Hyett, 27, of King Edward Street, Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was a prominent figure following the disappearance of Shannon Matthews last year.
She lived next door to the schoolgirl and is the sister of Shannon’s mother Karen’s former partner, Craig Meehan.
Hyett stood in the dock looking straight forward as the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, passed sentence.
Dressed in a grey and black cardigan over a white blouse, she nodded slightly as Judge Collier told her he was sending her to prison for 12 months and she would have to serve half of this term.
Her husband - who was described by Hyett’s own barrister as "completely feckless" - left the court in tears.
He later left the court in a brand new people carrier.
Earlier, Craig Hassal, prosecuting, told the court how Hyett had claimed benefits apparently legitimately from November 2002 when she told the Benefits Agency she had split up from her then partner, Neil Hyett.
Mr Hassal said the offending began in May 2004 when she married Mr Hyett, but failed to tell the authorities about this and that they were living together.
In 2006 Hyett stopped claiming benefits and, in an interview at the time, Mr Hyett told staff "they had tried to go legit".
But, Mr Hassal said, he later admitted they could not afford to forgo the benefits and his wife began claiming again three months later.
The prosecutor said the defendant continued to tell officials her husband did not live with her and she did not know what his address was.
Mr Hassal said the fraud lasted for about four years and amounted to £35,885.27.
Garrett Byrne, defending, said: "This is not a case of a professional gang planning a sophisticated fraud, but one of a single mother, for a large part of the time, who was intent on feeding her family rather than feeding some excessive lifestyle."
Mr Byrne said Hyett had a volatile relationship with her husband, who was often away.
He said: "He fully accepts that he can be described as someone that’s completely feckless."
The barrister said he went "as far as to father a child with another woman".
He said his client had shown genuine remorse and pleaded with the judge to impose a suspended sentence given she had to look after her two children, aged six and eight.