Mum-of-two who worked for HMRC spared jail after swindling over £50k in tax credits
A Revenue and Customs employee who swindled more than £50,000 in family tax credits has avoided jail because she has children.
Imposing a 15-month jail term at Craigavon Crown Court, Judge Patrick Lynch QC told Leighanne Jago (37) he was suspending the term for three years "as an act of mercy".
Having heard that her two children face health difficulties, the judge told the fraudster: "You are getting a chance, in large part I'm extending mercy to you because of your family circumstances - but it's unlikely to be given again."
At an earlier hearing, Jago, from Lagmore Meadows in Dunmurry, pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming tax credits between April 2010 and last February.
Outlining how she claimed £52,000 over that time period, prosecution lawyer Ian Tannahill told the court that at the time Jago was "employed by HMRC in relation to tax credit compliance", adding that given her job "she would have been well aware of her responsibilities".
Before changing her status, Jago had "claimed correctly as a married person" but chose to make a fraudulent claim from 2010.
Judge Lynch told her "you come before this court as a dishonest person" whose fraudulent behaviour had resulted in "the Exchequer being deprived of roughly £52,000."
He added that her job "exacerbated" her offending in that it represented a "breach of trust" but that he was giving her credit for her previously clear record and guilty plea.