Catering assistant repaying over £3,000 in benefits

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A Magherafelt woman who wrongfully received just over £3,000 in benefits appeared at the local Magistrates Court

Mother-of-four Sheila McGuckin, from Tulach Way in the town, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.

The 28-year-old catering assistant admitted two charges of failing to disclose a change in circumstances in respect of obtaining Income Support and Housing Benefit.

The offences were committed between November 2015 and March 2016.

Defence barrister Michael Forde said defendant had put in place a repayment plan which, he understood, she was “half way through.”

Mr Forde explained the offences had occurred while her partner was living with her on an irregular basis.

They were now married and were no longer living separate lives, he told the court.

He stressed that she had a clear record and worked 12 hours a week as a catering assistant in a school.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Forde pointed out that from the pre-sentence report there was a low risk of the defendant re-offending.

He added she was not the type to evade responsibility and had put in place a repayment plan.

Imposing a Conditional Discharge, District Judge Oonagh Mullan said if she imposed a different sentence it would have repercussions for the defendant at her place of employment.

“I hope you have learned your lesson from this,” she added.