A BENEFITS cheat from Eltham who fraudulently claimed more than £28,000 of taxpayers’ money has avoided jail.

Marion Foster admitted being overpaid housing benefit, income support and council tax between January 2006 and March 2012.

The unemployed 51-year-old failed to declare her change in circumstance when her partner Simon Hanley, who was in full-time employment, moved into her home in Queenscroft Road.

Appearing at Woolwich Crown Court today, Foster pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining benefits while living together with Mr Hanley between January 23, 2006, and March 12, 2012, and dishonestly obtaining benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions while living together with Mr Hanley between January 18, 2006, and March 6, 2012.

She was overpaid a total of £28,268 which included £13,151 in income support, £12,787 in housing benefit and £2,329 in council tax.

Foster, who struggles to walk, was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for 12 months, and handed a three-month curfew order.

Judge Andrew Lees said: “Benefit fraud is a serious offence. This is money you weren’t entitled to.

You should have notified the authorities about your change in circumstances. It is a significant amount of money.

“This is usually met with a custodial sentence but I can see from my eyes that you have mobility issues.”