Kingsbury mum claimed benefits while working in Marks & Spencer

Shop worker claimed she was unable to work because of mental health issues

A single mum who claimed thousands of pounds in benefits while working in a high-street store has been spared jail.

Natasha Telfer, 31, of Larkspur Gardens, Kingsbury, pocketed �7,129 in incapacity benefit after claiming she was unable to work because of mental health issues.

Southwark Crown Court heard the mother-of-one was later caught working up to 26 hours a week for Marks & Spencer in their stores in Fulham, Colliers Wood and Imperial Wharf.

She admitted two counts of failing to notify a change in circumstances between October 20007 and October 2008.

Incapacity benefit is payable to people working 16 hours per week or less who are in ‘permitted work’ but that the DWP must be advised of the type of work, the court was told.

Sentencing her to carry out 80 hours unpaid work, Judge Peter Testar said: “While I accept what is said on the defendant’s behalf about her mental health difficulties, and that perhaps she may have not been thinking with the clarity that others might apply, nevertheless this was a lot of money even in this day and age.

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“It was taken over a substantial period of time and the defendant was obliged to tell the Department for Work and Pensions about a change concerning her work and she did not.

“The proper way of dealing with this is to pass a community order under which she must complete 80 hours unpaid work.”