Sheffield benefits fraudster was living on Spanish Costa

Benefits cheat Susan Barringer.
Benefits cheat Susan Barringer.

A benefits cheat who fleeced UK taxpayers out of more than £20,000 while living on the sun-soaked Costa Del Sol has escaped an immediate jail term.

Susan Barringer, aged 56, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court in a mobility scooter to admit she’d failed to tell the authorities of her move abroad.

Patrick Palmer, prosecuting, said Barringer began claiming disability living allowance in 2001 because she was ‘almost unable to walk’.

But she continued claiming benefits in the UK despite moving to Spain in around 2004.

Mr Palmer said an investigation was launched and her bank accounts showed she had been spending money abroad.

She was also using a mobile telephone in Malaga.

Mr Palmer said when Barringer began to claim benefits she had to sign a form which stated she would inform the authorities if she was abroad for more than four weeks.

Barringer, of Clayton Hollow, Waterthorpe, Sheffield, claimed she was unaware she had to inform the authorities she was not in the country.

Mr Palmer said she was living in a mobile home in Spain which she bought in 2004 for £10,000 to £15,000 after inheriting around £30,000 from her ex-husband.

The court heard Barringer claimed £20,097.10 to which she was not entitled.

She pleaded guilty to failing to notify the authorities of a change in her circumstances.

David Webster, defending, said she was a hard-working woman who was caring for her elderly mother.

He added: “The excursions to Spain are over.”

But Judge Recorder Ray Singh told her: “You were not, in essence, living in this jurisdiction since 2004.

“You were no doubt fully aware you must notify a change in circumstances whether or not you were resident in the UK.

“You clearly chose to ignore that by not reporting these changes.

“When interviewed you told deliberate lies to the officer investigating.”

Recorder Singh handed Barringer a 12-week jail term, suspended for 18 months, and made her the subject of a curfew from 9pm to 6am every night.