A benefit cheat, who lied she was a struggling single-parent whil secretly living with her husband and sub-letting her council-funded flat during a five-year £64,000 swindle, received a suspended prison sentence yesterday.
Kenyan-born Gladys O’Brien, 44, collected money from tenants who rented her in-demand flat in Gilbey Road, near Tooting Broadway Underground Station.
She was claiming housing benefit for the property to cover rent to the real landlord while living on the other side of the capital in Lavender Grove, Hackney.
At Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court she received eight months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months.
O’Brien was also ordered to complete 120 hours community service and she is subject to Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to recover the money.
Now residing at a family address inIbbertson Road, Bournemouth O’Brien pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances to the London Borough of Wandsworth.
Between April 26, 2010 and November 8, 2015 she did not inform the council she was in receipt of rental income.
Prosecutor Miss Amanda McCabe told the court: “She was not entitled to that benefit because she was living with her partner at another address.”
O’Brien submitted the housing benefit claim on January 24, 2007 on the basis she was “a single-parent on a low income,” but began renting it out three years later.
“The defendant had not declared she was sub-letting the flat while living with her husband.”
Mum-of-two O’Brien married in 1997, but says she left her husband and successfully applied for a non-molestation order before reconciling and moving back in.
On March 7, last year she was called into a Jobcentre for interview, where she admitted living with her husband.
“She did deny renting out the flat in Gilbey Road and receiving rental payments for it since 2010 and continuing to sign new tenancy agreements with the landlord while sub-letting it.
“She accepted her actions were selfish.”
O’Brien initially repaid Wandsworth Council £1,777 per month until October 30, last year, but that has dropped to £50 per week since February 2 after losing her job.
“She informed the benefits agency she became unemployed.”