Magistrate jailed for cheating the benefits sytem
A magistrate who cheated the benefits system out of tens of thousands of pounds by lying about her mobility and care needs has been jailed for nine months today (30 October).
Judge David Aubrey, QC, at Liverpool Crown Court criticised Sandra Howell, 46, of Stockport Road in Marple in Cheshire for her “flagrant dishonesty”. Ms Howell, who had served on the bench at Stockport Magistrates Court, claimed Disability Living Allowance while working as a domestic cleaner.
She was brought into the courtroom each day of her trial in a wheelchair but footage was played to the jury of her walking around the Trafford Centre and on the driveway of her home.
George Ward from the Mersey Cheshire Fraud Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Sandra Howell grossly misrepresented her disability and stole from the state – while, at the same time, sitting as a magistrate at Stockport Magistrates’ Court.
“While dispensing the law she was also breaking it – how she thought she was going to get away with it, we’ll never know.
“She was receiving the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance on the grounds that she was virtually unable to walk, needed physical support and needed someone with her most of the time to help with personal care.
“However, the prosecution evidence in this case showed that her health had improved to the extent that she was able to work as a cleaner and was seen on camera, going about her work at the Trafford Centre.
“She made false statements to the Department of Work and Pensions and as a result was overpaid to the extent of £26,539.15.
“Se has been jailed for nine months, her reputation is in tatters and she has only herself and her greed to blame. Let this be a lesson to anyone, whatever their position in society, who thinks they can cheat the system and go unpunished.”