A DROITWICH Spa woman will be electronically tagged after being prosecuted for benefit fraud.

Since 1993, Margaret Lock, aged 58, currently living at Teesdale Close, Droitwich Spa, claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit as a single person, in relation to the property she rents in Droitwich.

As a result of a joint investigation by Wychavon District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), it was found that Lock had failed to disclose capital in a number of undisclosed bank accounts; including a joint account with her ex-partner, who now lives with her in her again as a non-dependant.

An examination of these accounts revealed a large number of unexplained credits. When she was interviewed about this matter in November 2011 and January 2012 she failed to give a satisfactory explanation for these.

The investigation found total over payments of £17,581.16 in income support and a total of £5,089.44 in housing benefit and council tax benefit.

The case was heard at Worcester Magistrates Court on Wednesday, February 27 where she pleaded guilty to all the charges.

In mitigation, her solicitor Mark Lister advised the bench that the years 2005 to 2011 had been a difficult time for Lock. Her former partner had become ill and had moved back into her property. She was made bankrupt in 2009 and has a 32-year old daughter with severe medical problems, for whom she provides care. She also looks after her grandchildren.

In summary, he said that during that time she didn't pay proper attention to the money given to her by family, money that was paid into her bank accounts and money borrowed and paid out. Due to her own health issues and her responsibility as a carer, her solicitor said that she would be unable to carry out unpaid work.

Therefore, when sentencing, in view of the defendant’s circumstances, magistrates sentenced her to a community service order and imposed an immediate 10-week curfew order from 8pm to 6am, where she would be electronically tagged. The prosecutors for the DWP were awarded costs of £100.

Lock will also have to fully repay all the benefits to which she was not entitled.