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Suspended prison sentence for woman after admitting false benefit claim
A tearful mum who cheated taxpayers out of about £17,000 has been given a suspended prison sentence for benefit fraud.
Last month, Zahida Ejaz, 41, pleaded guilty to four offences relating to benefit and council tax fraud and yesterday she returned to Bradford Crown Court to be sentenced.
Prosecutor Louise Azmi told the court that Ejaz’s claims for job-seeker’s allowance and council tax benefit on behalf of herself and her husband were fraudulent from the outset.
Mrs Azmi said the mother-of-two, of Westburn Crescent, Keighley, made her initial application for benefits in October 2009 and over the next two years she continued to claim benefits without informing the authorities that her husband had obtained various jobs during that time.
She said the fraud was uncovered in November 2011 and Ejaz had illegally obtained £14,773 in job-seeker’s allowance and a further £2,264 in council tax benefit.
Lawyer Stephen Couch, for Ejaz, highlighted his client’s previous good character, her family responsibilities and the fact that she had already repaid the council tax money when he urged Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC not to jail her immediately.
Mr Couch suggested that his client’s judgement had been affected by the unstable relationship she was in at the time. She has been of course extremely terrified about the prospects of coming here and has had concern and worry about that for quite a long period of time,’” he added.
Judge Durham Hall said people had to realise that they couldn’t commit such offences and prison sentences would follow, but he decided to suspend Ejaz’s six-month term for a year.
‘’You’re obviously a very good mother and you are now working,’’ the judge told Ejaz.
‘’You made a terrible mistake... I don’t quite know whose idea it was. You know the courts are very concerned about this.’’ The judge said Ejaz would have to do 200 hours unpaid work for the community. “Don’t come back, Mrs Ejaz. It would be dreadful to have to lock you up,’’ the judge added.