Fenland couple who claimed �52,000 by pretending they looked after children spared jail
A JOBLESS couple swindled the taxpayer of �52,000 by pretending they looked after children. Kate Brown enlisted the help of her partner Nicholas Chenery to give HM Revenue and Customs false information so they could claim child t
Story by: ANDREW PAPWORTH
A JOBLESS couple swindled the taxpayer of �52,000 by pretending they looked after children.
Kate Brown enlisted the help of her partner Nicholas Chenery to give HM Revenue and Customs false information so they could claim child tax credits.
The pair got the better of the system for more than two years before they were caught.
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However Brown and Chenery, of Overstone Road, Coldham, escaped jail even though a judge said they "richly deserved to go immediately into custody".
The various offences included claiming tax credits for children not in their care; making false claims in Brown's mother's name and hijacking a friend's legitimate tax credit claim.
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The fraud was committed between December 2005 and April 2007 and intervention by HMRC criminal investigators prevented further losses of around �50,000.
Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said banging up the pair would cost taxpayers who had just been conned even more money.
Sentencing Brown and Chenery at Cambridge Crown Court, he said: "I fail to see how it is in the public interest to burden the British taxpayer with any further expense by maintaining you in prison."
Instead he gave Brown a 12 month jail term suspended for two years in a bid to "bring home the need to observe the law and behave honestly".
He also gave Brown two years' supervision to help deal with mental health difficulties.
In a stark warning to the 28-year-old, Judge Hawkesworth said: "I accept that you have had an extremely troubled past which leads you to behave in irrational and manipulative ways.
"I hope you are beginning to have insight into the nature of your problem. It can't go on being an excuse for your dishonest behaviour.
"You have got to deal with it, stop manipulating people and being dishonest."
Brown, who pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud, is now paying back �20 a week towards the �51,845 total taken between February 2005 and July 2007.
Judge Hawkesworth admitted Chenery's financial profit "was nothing like as great as your partner's" and said Brown was the "principal architect".
Chenery will have to complete 175 hours unpaid work after he was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
The 42-year-old had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud before Friday's sentencing.
Judge Hawkesworth said: "Knowing your partner for as long as you have, you had a responsibility to keep your eye on things.