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Byline: Liz Keen

A MOTHER-OF-THREE who cheated the council out of more than pounds 15,000 has had her jail sentence suspended.

Diane Booker, 30, wept as a judge at Cardiff Crown Court told her she deserved to go to prison for what was a serious fraud on the DSS and the public purse.

But Recorder Greg Bull QC said the six months would be suspended for two years because of the changes in her life since being caught and because locking her up would impose an intolerable burden on her children. He said Booker, of Mariners Way, Rhoose, knew all about cheating the system having been caught and given a conditional discharge by Barry magistrates for obtaining pounds 2,600 she wasn't entitled to in 1996.

Three years later, she was also convicted of theft after a rental TV set disappeared.

Prosecutor Tom Crowther said DSS and council housing and tax officials caught up with her again in 2001 after she had been working for two years as a cleaner at Cardiff Airport earning pounds 150 per week without declaring it.

She was paid more than pounds 10,000 in income support, pounds 4,600 housing benefit and had a pounds 933 reduction in council tax.

Defence barrister Richard Jones said she was separated from the children's father at the time and friendly with another man who later left her in debt.

``She has turned over a new leaf,'' he said. Booker pleaded guilty to four charges of making false claims of benefits and asked for 108 other offences to be taken into consideration.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 29, 2003
Previous Article:WIN pounds 4,000 worth of vouchers for Asda or Sainsbury's.

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