Benefit fraudster Toni Swindells given a six-week suspended prison sentence for claiming £18,000

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A Northampton woman has received a suspended prison sentence for falsely claiming more than £18,000 in benefits.

Toni Swindells, from Forest Road in Far Cotton, Northampton, was charged with four counts of false claims since 2010, after she failed to declare that her partner had moved in with her. She had been claiming child and income benfits among others.

The 26-year-old mother-of-one pleaded guilty to all charges and was given the six-week suspended sentence at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

The court heard that, on her arrest in 2012, she claimed her partner had only been living with her since the end of 2011, when he had actually been living there for much longer.

Swindells’ mitigating solicitor suggested that her actions were encouraged by her partner, who then “disappeared” once authorities became involved.

Swindells, who is unemployed and has dyslexia, later returned to the police voluntarily to correct her statement and has already begun paying back the public money.

Her solicitor said: “This is a one-off incident and she is a woman of good character who needs to take steps to find her own voice and avoid getting involved in controlling relationships.”