A Leeds woman who admitted a 10-year benefit fraud totalling £30,000 was only found out after a murder took place in her home, a court heard.
Police were called to Lynda Black’s home in Leeds in 2005 after a visitor was shot and killed there, Leeds Crown Court was told.
Subsequent enquiries by detectives about living arrangements in the house were then passed to Leeds City Council.
Mrs Black, 37, yesterday (Nov 14) appeared at Leeds Crown Court, where she had earlier pleaded guilty to seven counts of making a false statement to obtain benefit and payment, in relation to council tax benefit and housing benefit.
She did not declare she was living in a household with a man – as husband and wife – between 2000 to 2003.
The seven sample charges occurred during the three-year period, but substantial overpayments were made over a 10-year period, until 2010.
The court heard that Mrs Black, of Blackmoor Road, Moortown, Leeds, had lived in a house where a murder took place during 2005.
Prosecutor Andrew Stranex said a tragic occurrence had taken place at the property.
He said: “Someone else shot and killed a visitor to the house.
“This meant the house was sealed off for some time, until July 2006, as police investigated and Mrs Black was unable to return to it after she and her partner were arrested by police as part of inquiries.”
Sentencing, Recorder Mark Gargan said that Mrs Black was of previous good character and had managed to gain a good job for the first time in her life, which she had held down since September 2010.
He said he had taken into account her guilty plea and that she had suffered considerable emotional distress following the investigation. The court also heard she had undergone surgery which enabled her to lose a considerable amount of weight.
He said: “You pleaded guilty to offences over a course of 10 years and claimed in excess of £30,000 in benefits.
“This is a course of conduct which must be marked by a custodial sentence.”
Mrs Black was sentenced to six months in prison for making a false statement to obtain benefit and payment, which was suspended for two years.
She also received 100 hours of unpaid work plus a medium level of activity for 30 days.
There was no order for costs or for repayment of the money which she had falsely claimed.