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Sunday, January 17, 2010


$150,000 lottery winner escapes jail after receiving state benefits

$150,000 lottery winner escapes jail despite claiming $15,000 in benefits

Andy Dolan
Last updated at 7:33 PM on 17th January 2010

 A mother who fiddled the benefits system despite winning $154,000 on the National Lottery has walked free - to the frustration of a judge powerless to jail her.

Sandra Bellamy, 52, owned three houses and enjoyed a string of holidays after banking the windfall in 2006 but posed as a struggling single mother to claim income support, council tax and housing benefits.

The fraudster was paid $15,000 in benefits she was not entitled to, but avoided jail after being given a suspended sentence.

Suspended sentence: Sandra Bellamy, pictured arriving at court for an earlier hearing, was paid almost $15,000 in benefits she had no entitlement to

Judge Samuel Wiggs said Bellamy could previously have been sent to prison, but a recent overhaul of national sentencing guidelines had left his hands tied.

He said: 'A few years ago this would have resulted in a custodial sentence, but guidelines have changed.

'This may not have started dishonestly but it continued dishonestly. It was a blatant offence.'

The mother-of-one had already failed to declare her $30,000 divorce settlement and a house she owned in Southend, where she lived until the breakdown of her marriage, when she won $154,026 on the lottery in May 2006.

The houses (above and below) are owned by Bellamy. They are both worth around $250,000 and have been rented out by her for around $3,000-a-month

Bournemouth Crown Court heard she moved to the resort in 2004 following her divorce, and began claiming the benefits in September that year.

John Dyer, prosecuting, said Bellamy, whose daughter was at boarding school, used her divorce settlement as a deposit for a flat, and later bought a third house, also in Bournemouth, with another $30,000 deposit which came from her lottery win.

The Bournemouth properties were both worth around $250,000 and were rented out by Bellamy for $3,000 a month, the court heard.

Mr Dyer said Bellamy had savings of more than $16,000 which would have 'greatly affected' the level of benefits she was able to claim, had the cash been disclosed. 

'In May 2006 she won $154,026 on the National Lottery', he said.

'In July 2006, she withdrew her claim for income support without giving a reason, but in October she had gone back to income support.

'She didn't tell the authorities about the lottery win or about the flats she owned. In total, the overpay was $14,814.41.'

Mr Dyer added that Bellamy admitted her guilt when she was found out.

Bellamy said at the time: 'I just thought if I could get things sorted, I could work things out.'

There were withdrawals from her account in Croatia, Turkey, Barbados and New York, he said.

Bellamy had earlier admitted three charges of false representation in relation to housing benefit claims, failure to notify the authorities of changes to circumstances and dishonestly obtaining benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions.

She was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered her to do 200 hours' community service.



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