A businesswoman from Bradford claimed £43,000 of benefits for her invalid mother up to 18 months after her death to buy a seaside guest house.

Jean Woodward started claiming benefits in her mother's name less than a month after her funeral, Hull Crown Court heard.

The scam was hidden because her mother's death certificate had the wrong name and date of birth on it - making routine checks on the claims impossible.

Woodward, who gave her address at a previous hearing as Verity Street, East Bierley, Bradford, was said to have pumped £30,000 of the cash into buying the guest house in Bridlington.

Two of her other businesses - including a clothes shop and old people's home in Bradford - had already collapsed.

The court heard how the 60-year-old continued to claim her dead mother's income support totalling £26,999, attendance allowance of £6,903 and retirement pension of £8,423 and housing benefit of more than £1,500 for 18 months after the family funeral.

Her mother Mary Hilham was kept alive in social security records while Woodward built a relationship with Michael Siewruk.

Together they helped drain the money for enterprises in Bridlington which flopped.

The only money left declared in court was £10,000 from the sale of the guest house which they split after it had been bought in his daughter Isobella's name using a trust.

Patrick Palmer, prosecuting, said Woodward's benefit scam would never have been discovered because her mothers' death certificate had the wrong name and date of birth on it - making routine checks to cancel claims impossible.

It was only when a stunned relative found out that Woodward was reported to benefit investigators who had to unravel the cheating using land registry records.

"This defendant continued to make claims on behalf of her deceased mother," said Mr Palmer. "She died on June 27, 1999. Benefits were being paid to her daughter of £330 per week direct by credit transfer.

"She went to a solicitor's in June 2000 a year after her mother's death and was told she could be jailed for what she was doing.

"She told the arresting officer she was too frightened to stop claiming."

The court heard Woodward had owned a rest home for 12 people in Bradford which collapsed when her first husband died of cancer.

She then ran an old people's home for nine people, before a clothes business she started also failed.

Defending barrister Christine Colley said it was a sad day when a woman in her 60s of previous good character was appearing in court facing the prospect of imprisonment.

"As is often the case triggers in people's lives cause them to behave in ways which are totally out of character," said Miss Colley.

Her mother's death was the trigger and she never set out to forge documents. Miss Colley said Siewruk's business ideas swallowed the money and he encouraged her to keep claiming it.

Woodward was interviewed by benefits investigators and pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to notify a change in circumstance and two offences of furnishing false information.

Imposing a nine month suspended prison sentence Judge Tom Cracknell said: "You must deep down be ashamed of yourself. This was clearly a deliberate fraud.

"The courts have made it clear that those who claim from the public purse must expect custodial sentences. Your sentence will be nine months but I tell you now it will be suspended for two years. There is little point in filling jails with people like you. Go away."

He warned her if she committed any further offences she would be jailed for nine months.

Woodward hugged friends in the public gallery - one of whom thanked the judge before they left court.