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Keighley tax cheat is spared jail term
12:20pm Friday 4th October 2013 in News
A Keighley mum who cheated taxpayers out of about £17,000 has been given a suspended prison sentence for benefit fraud.
Zahida Ejaz, 41, pleaded guilty in August to four offences relating to benefit and council tax fraud, and she returned to Bradford Crown Court last Thursday to be sentenced.
Prosecutor, Louise Azmi, told the court Ejaz’s claims for Jobseekers’ Allowance and council tax benefit for herself and her husband were fraudulent from the outset.
Mrs Azmi said the mother-of-two, of Westburn Crescent, made her initial application for benefits in October 2009, and during the next two years she continued to claim benefits without informing the authorities her husband had obtained various jobs during that time.
She said the fraud was uncovered in November 20111. Ejaz had illegally obtained £14,773 in Jobseekers’ Allowance and a further £2,264 in council tax benefit.
Lawyer, Stephen Couch, for Ejaz, highlighted his client’s previous good character, her family responsibilities and the fact she had already repaid the council tax money when he urged Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC not to jail her immediately.
Mr Couch suggested his client’s judgement had been affected by the unstable relationship she was in at the time.
“She has been, of course, extremely terrified about the prospects of coming here, and has had concern and worry about that for quite a long period of time,” he added.
Judge Durham Hall said people had to realise they couldn’t commit such offences and prison sentences would follow, but he decided to suspend Ejaz’s six-month term for a year.
“You’re obviously a very good mother and you are now working,” the judge told Ejaz. “You made a terrible mistake.”
Ejaz will have to complete 200 hours’ unpaid community work. “Don’t come back, Mrs Ejaz. It would be dreadful to have to lock you up,” the judge added.