An Angus woman has been given the chance to avoid jail by paying back a £22,000 benefits bill.
Kristen Herald obtained a range of benefits over two years when she failed to declare someone was living with her at her Arbroath home.
The 27-year-old was originally accused of obtaining £31,000 but admitted amended charges at Forfar Sheriff Court involving £22,000.
She obtained housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support of £10,000 to which she was not entitled.
The accused further admitted getting £12,000 of working tax credit and child tax credit payments to which she was not entitled.
Defence agent Billy Rennie said the sum had come about due to a former partner who “came and went as he pleased” and made no financial contribution to the household.
“She did not benefit in any financial way during this period,” he said.
“Tragically he passed away in 2015 but she had moved on from then.
“She is well thought of, has no previous convictions, and is paying somewhere in the region of £200 a month towards this, so in the order of £3,000 has been paid.”
Describing the amount as an “important figure”, Sheriff Gregor Murray deferred sentence to January 19 for good behaviour and an examination of how much could be paid back.
He said: “To an extent my hands are tied because there is a case at the High Court which says if you plead guilty to an amount of this size, a normal sentence attracted is in the region of 12 months in prison, which would be discounted because of your early plea.
“The more that is paid by then, the less tightly my hands are tied by that.
“I don’t want this hanging over your head or your family’s for longer than need be.”
Herald, of Great Michael Road, admitted a charge brought under the 1992 Social Security Administration Act that between March 13 2012 and May 30 2014, at her home address, she knowingly made a false statement or representation to officials of Angus Council and the Department of Work and Pensions on benefit application forms by failing to declare that there was a male residing at the claim address.