Brierley Hill couple in two-year £22k benefits fiddle

A couple pocketed almost £22,000 in a “breathtaking” two-year benefits fraud at a string of different addresses, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Jade Brown, aged 25, and 26-year-old David Stone forged documents and repeatedly lied that they were not living together despite having two children, one of whom was born during the scam. They claimed housing and council tax relief, income support and job seekers allowance, even though he was in regular work, the court was told yesterday.

In 2008 the couple, who had lived together since 2006, moved from Henry Price House, Oldbury, to Wales after he got a new job, said prosecutor Mark Jackson.

Brown and Stone, who was an assistant manager with Marriott Hotels in Swansea, continued the fraud following their move to a nearby house and persisted, following another job switch, when they moved to South Bank Road, Cradley Heath.

They forged tenancy agreements to make it seem Brown was living alone and she said in a conversation with benefits staff she did not know Stone. Meanwhile, she had shown off their newborn daughter to his workmates and bragged on Facebook about them being engaged for years.

She also told benefits officers not to worry about state payouts covering only £100 of their £150-a-week rent, because she would have no trouble making up the shortfall. Brown and Stone, who started work as a school caretaker after losing his hotel job following the discovery of the fiddle, admitted benefits fraud. Their home is now in Wells Road, Brierley Hill.

Each was jailed for 12 months but Brown’s sentence was suspended under supervision for 18 months, with 180 hours unpaid work, by Judge Michael Challinor, who told her: “The degree of deception used by both of you was breathtaking.”