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Angus mum, 25, guilty of £7k benefit fraud looks at sheriff ‘like a piece of dirt’ while chewing gum

Gemma MacAlister
Gemma MacAlister

A benefits cheat has been slammed by a sheriff for her failure to complete unpaid work imposed over a near-£7,500 swindle.

Gemma MacAlister was also sent from the dock at Forfar by Sheriff Gregor Murray to consider her attitude towards the bench after he said he did not expect the gum-chewing 25-year-old to look at him “like a piece of dirt on your carpet”.

The single mum later apologised to the sheriff but has had extra hours added to her community order, with a warning she could go to prison if the next review report is anything other than glowing.

MacAlister, of Glenogil Drive, Arbroath was previously sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work after admitting a series of benefit frauds over a period of almost three years.

She had been living with her partner at the time but claimed thousands of pounds in housing benefit, income support and tax credits between 2013 and 2015.

MacAlister was originally sentenced for the offences last year when the court was told she was deeply ashamed of her actions.

She has also been paying back the defrauded sum at £150 per month.

Sheriff Murray told MacAlister: “You need to grow up.

“You pled guilty to a significant offence involving a significant amount of public money and were given a number of hours to reflect your personal circumstances.

“Your attendance for unpaid work has been sporadic and social workers have bent over backwards for you.

“Your attitude is appalling. I do not expect you to look at me as if I am a piece of dirt on your carpet.”

Following an adjournment in her case after she was sent out of the dock, MacAlister’s solicitor, Grant Bruce, said the his client wanted to apologise to the sheriff.

“She has been finding things very difficult in terms of childcare. In addition she is paying back £150 per month, but she does understand the need for these hours to be done.

“They have now been confirmed for a Saturday and she is quite willing to do that.”

Sheriff Murray told MacAlister: “You have instructed Mr Bruce to say you are doing your best. I don’t believe that for a second and you can do an awful lot better.

“There will be a review in three months’ time. I expect that all of what you have been asked to do will have been done and if it hasn’t then other things will happen,” he said.

An additional 25 hours was also added to MacAlister’s CPO.

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