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Benefits cheat council worker raked in nearly £200k

By Carl Jackson | Cannock | Crime | Published:

A benefits cheat council worker who stole NHS cash and racked up nearly £200,000 in ill-gotten gains has been ordered to pay out £131,000.

Fiona Slym, from Eagle Close, Cheslyn Hay, was locked up for three-and-a-half years in May after a jury found her guilty of theft while working for Staffordshire County Council.

She later pleaded guilty to fraud in relation to her disability benefits.

It was previously thought her six-year racket was worth between £70,000 and £80,000, but it has now emerged that the 49-year-old mother of two had obtained £192,272.18 illegally.

The figure was revealed during a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at Stafford Crown Court on Wednesday.

Slym, who appeared via video-link from Derbyshire-based women’s prison Foston Hall, was ordered to pay back £131,444 in total.

Prosecutor Jamie Scott said: “This defendant is subject to confiscation proceedings for two separate indictments.

“The parties are agreed on the amount that ought to be paid.

“The defendant declared a criminal lifestyle and the benefit obtained is £192,272.18.”

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Slym worked in the council’s adult social care office in Cannock, where she handled vulnerable adults’ money, taking care of payments for extra care, funeral costs and bills on behalf of people who could not manage their own finances.

But after a trial she was found guilty of pocketing £53,777.72 between March 2009 and June 2014 by cashing cheques for herself that were meant to be paid to Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP). While Slym was being investigated her disability benefit claims for her Multiple Sclerosis and arthritis, were also put under the microscope.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) found that some time between September 2010 and June 2015 – a period in which she had banked more than £25,000 – her condition had improved but she had failed to inform authorities. In 2010 she renewed her disability benefits stating she could not walk more than a few steps. But investigators challenged those claims upon her arrest.

Out of the money Slym has to pay back, £51,000 will go to SSOTP, which will be taken straight out of her pension fund, while the DWP will receive £25,789.20. Defence barrister Jonathan Barker said she is selling her house to find the cash. Slym is serving three years for the conviction of ‘theft by employee’ and a further six months for fraud.

While passing sentence, Recorder Rebecca Herbert described her as a ‘thoroughly dishonest individual’. Mr Barker told the court that her offending started when her husband had been made redundant and she hit financial trouble.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson
Reporter - @cjackson_star

Senior reporter for Staffordshire and Walsall.

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