Benefits cheat is banged up

An Ilkeston benefits cheat has been jailed for five months for failing to declare a £28,000 inheritance.

Maria Higgins, of Meadow Street, failed to notify her change in circumstances while claiming benefits , including housing and council tax.

Erewash Borough Council launched a joint investigation with the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) after an allegation that the 48-year-old had received an inheritance.

Higgins – also known as Maria Kennelly – denied the offence but was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court on April 12, when she was given the custodial sentence and told to pay £1,000 costs.

In addition, she was ordered to repay DWP benefit payments of £10,749 and housing and council tax benefit payments of £11,300.

When the inheritance money was traced, at the start of the investigation, Higgins claimed the cash had been left to her children.

Higgins continued to deny the offence and pleaded not guilty.

A will was shown to the court which clearly showed that the money had been left to her - but then placed in accounts of family members.