Teaching assistant falsely claimed

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A MUM worked as a classroom assistant while claiming beneits.

Joanne Brown found work at a Hartlepool school while she and her partner claimed £5,555.54 in housing and council tax benefits.

In June 2009, the 38-year-old initially began to work as a supply classroom assistant on a casual basis, earning a net monthly payment of £240.

She then progressed to a classroom assistant, lunch-time supervisor and play-leader in October 2009, earning anything from £400 to between £700 and £1,000 a month.

Brown, of Kipling Road, Hartlepool, admitted failing to notify the council that she had started paid employment between June 12, 2009, and October 27, 2009.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard the couple claimed on November 20, 2007.

But Tony McNab, prosecuting on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council, told town magistrates: “A referral from the National Fraud Initiative indicated Ms Brown had been working at a school in Hartlepool and this had not been declared.”

Brown was interviewed and said she or her partner should have reported any changes including their income changing.

The court heard Brown’s partner, who is a painter and decorator, had dealt with the claim and completed the form and she “should have taken more care”.

Neil Taylor, mitigating, asked justices to go along with the recommendation of a pre-sentence report.

He said: “The report is very clear as to her culpability for this – she signed it and didn’t check it and she shouldn’t have.”

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Peter Heron sentenced Brown to a six-month community order with supervision.

The school where Brown worked was not named in court.