A pensioner who systematically cheated the benefits system for over seven years persuaded a sheriff to delay her case because there are “truly exceptional circumstances” which could keep her out of prison.
Suzanne Gillman conned the benefits agency out of £40,000 by hiding the fact she was in paid employment in a Dundee jewellery shop while claiming benefits.
The 65-year-old from Blairgowrie fraudulently claimed the cash while pretending she was too scared to face customers and claiming she had been off work sick for years.
Her solicitor, Brian Bell, admitted established case law meant Gillman’s crime had reached the level where a prison sentence was virtually inevitable.
But he persuaded Sheriff Jennifer Bain KC to defer sentence in the case to investigate whether his client would be able to cope with a period behind bars.
‘Truly exceptional circumstances’
Mr Bell told Perth Sheriff Court: “I would seek an adjournment, primarily to look at the impact of a custodial sentence on my client.
“The appeal court said it would require to be truly exceptional circumstances before someone could avoid a custodial sentence and I recognise that.
“She is 65 and has no previous convictions.
“She has a significant medical condition that requires treatment.
“I submit that, whilst it is a high figure, there are potentially truly exceptional circumstances for the court to avoid a custodial sentence.
“I think she would struggle with a custodial setting more than others.
“I ask the court to take that into account.”
Sheriff Bain agreed to defer sentence for further medical reports and continued Gillman’s bail.
Worked 40 hours a week
Gillman fraudulently claimed cash for more than seven years while working as a shop assistant for High Street jewellery chain Beaverbrooks.
The court was told she had only taken one week off due to illness during the period she claimed she had been unable to work at all.
Gillman, of Picture House Court, admitted that between March 27 2011 and May 11 2018 she claimed £40,000 Employment Support Allowance to which she was not entitled.
She admitted knowingly failing to give prompt notification she had returned to work at Beaverbrooks in Dundee on March 27 2011.
The court heard previously she was caught when a review was carried out in 2018 and the benefits agency discovered she had been overpaid.
Beaverbrooks confirmed she was employed as a jewellery sales assistant in 2003 and was still employed to do 40 hours per week.