A BENEFITS cheat was caught out when neighbours spotted her shovelling snow from her driveway.
Brenda Ross escaped a jail sentence after she claimed disability benefit of more than £5,000 over a two-year period despite being able to carry out tasks she said she was unable to.
Ross, 42 Whitecraig Avenue, Whitecraig, was seen out clearing snow from her home, walking her grandson to school and working in a burger van.
Haddington Sheriff Court heard the 55-year-old was a first offender and that she had exaggerated her condition after taking advice from people she knew who were also claiming disability allowance.
Solicitor Robert Lowe said: “When she made the application she took advice from certain members of the public, who were also receiving this benefit, that she should put in her application that her then-worse symptoms were ever present – and that is what she did. She was not always as severe as she claimed in her application.”
Mr Lowe added his client was repaying the money at a rate of £36 per fortnight, which meant Ross would need more than five years to pay back all the debt.
Sheriff Kenneth Hogg told Ross: “I was concerned when I read that you thought you were not doing anything wrong. Let me tell you were, and significantly so.
“You have come very close to going to jail today, but I have decided it is appropriate to order a community disposal.”
Sheriff Hogg ordered Ross to carry out 175 hours of unpaid work.
Ross pleaded guilty to knowingly making false statements to the DWP and the Disability and Carer Service that she could not carry out everyday tasks without assistance and obtained disability living allowance of £5402.95 as a result between 24 June 24, 2010, and September 25, 2012.
More stories from Haddington Sheriff Court in this week’s Musselburgh News, on sale now.