A WOMAN who lied about her former partner moving back into the family home has avoided jail despite taking almost £25,000 in over payments from the government.

Danielle Simmonette was called into the Department of Work and Pensions after someone informed them that her position had changed in 2015 after she was awarded financial support through employment support allowance.

The 36-year-old illegally claimed £24,856.92 over a four-year period, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said: “The claim was not fraudulent at the outset. From March 2013, she was unable to work due to long term illness but what she them after was that in October 2014, her partner moved back in with her.”

Mr Newcombe told the court that Simmonette, whose address we are unable to publish for legal reasons, was called in for an interview with the DWP in 2015 where she denied that her circumstances had changed.

Her scam was finally brought to an end in 2018 after she had pocketed the money for four years.

Simmonette pleaded guilty to a charge of dishonestly failing to notify changes to her circumstances.

In mitigation, Nicci Horton, said her client had significant mental health issues as well as having to cope with other problems within the family unit.

She said: “There is a great deal she has been dealing with over the years, she has now enrolled with university but because of the current situation, she has been offered an apprenticeship so that she can start work immediately.

“She has significant mental health issues which she had been working hard on.”

Judge Paul Watson QC sentenced her to a 12-month community order and ordered her to attend 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He said: "The money is going to be clawed back over a long period of time. You're doing you're best to find a way forward and you are going to be going to university shortly."