Worksop: Mum with heroin habit jailed for £18k benefit fraud

Deborah Clamp
Deborah Clamp

A mum-of-three who misled the authorities into over-paying her nearly £18,000 in benefits has been jailed.

Worksop Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that Clamp had admitted ten offences dated between June 2010 and April 2013.

Peter Burns, prosecuting for Bassetlaw Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, said the charges were serious because they involved dishonesty.

Despite two previous warnings from the DWP to declare any work which could affect her entitlement to benefits, Clamp continued to work at One Stop Stores.

The court heard she had three children and a heroin habit.

She also failed to tell the authorities that she was living with her partner, and deliberately filled out forms without disclosing the fact.

The cohabitation was uncovered after surveillance caught the partner leaving her Plantation Hill home.

Several applications for pay-day loans and other finance also linked the pair to the same address.

The fraud led Bassetlaw Council to over-pay £1,320 in housing and Council Tax benefit. The DWP shelled out £16,575 in income support.

Defending, Jamie Ratcliffe said Clamp’s ex-partner had only stayed with her ‘three or four nights a week’ and that her work at One Stop Stores was ‘sporadic’.

“If she was to notify the department of every change, her benefits would have been on and off all the time,” he said.

“These are not offences she set out to commit.”

“This is a lady trying to bring up three children with seemingly little help from their father. She is battling drugs and clearly not coping and to a certain extent has buried her head in the sand.”

“She knows her actions have not just affected her, but will affect her children if she goes to prison.”

Clamp wept in the courtroom while she waited half-hour for magistrates to decide her fate.

Her worst fears were confirmed as magistrate Dorothy Spence announced she must serve 18 weeks behind bars.

“It is very, very sad indeed,”she said.

“The amount is huge, they went on a very long period of time and you knew exactly what you were doing.”

“The offences were committed after you were warned on two occasions.”

Bassetlaw Coun Sylvia May, speaking on behalf of the council, said: “We hope that today’s action sends out a clear message that benefit cheats in Bassetlaw will be pursued by the authorities and presented to the courts where they will receive the appropriate penalty, which in this case warranted a custodial sentence.”

“We appreciate that many families in our district face difficult circumstances and, along with our partners, will support those families who are legitimately in need.”

“However, we are ready to take action against a greedy few who wilfully abuse the welfare system.”