AN IMMIGRANT who fraudulently claimed more than £14,200 in benefits has avoided jail.
Ethiopian Kuku Alemu failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions and Stoke-on-Trent City Council that her partner Robert Aklilo was living with her.
The mother-of-two, of Crossley Road, Stanfields, submitted a legitimate claim in 2007 stating that she was a lone parent.
However an investigation revealed that Mr Aklilo, who is the father to her two children, had later moved into the property.
North Staffordshire Magistrates heard that Mr Aklilo had given the address as his home to two employers. The pair had also set up a joint bank account where the address was once again used.
Alemu, aged 34, pleaded not guilty to failing to notify a change of circumstances but was convicted following a trial.
Paul Key, prosecuting, said: "It started as a legitimate claim in 2007 on the basis that she was a lone parent with no savings and no source of income and so she also received housing and council tax benefit.
"The payments started to her bank account on the basis she would report any change in circumstances.
"She failed to report that she commenced living with a Robert Aklilo."
Yesterday, the court was told Mr Aklilo registered the address when opening various bank accounts.
He also paid for a Virgin Media account where the Stanfields address was used. Analysis of the records revealed cash transfers between the couple's accounts.
Nick Ryles, defending, said: "She still feels she was wrongly convicted.
"Her view was that the gentleman who was the father of her children never lived with her on a regular basis but used the house as a base.
"There was a degree of naivety. She didn't understand the loss to the public purse. She didn't realise benefits are tax payers' money.
"She is remorseful and it's something she doesn't wish to repeat again and I would be surprised if she found herself back before the court for any reason.
"She is going to college and does volunteer work at a local hospice.
"She wants to get qualifications and find employment.
"The biggest penalty for her is having to find the £14,000 plus that she will have to repay."
Alemu, who moved to the country from Ethiopia in 2005, was handed a 12-month community order along with a supervision order for the same length of time. She must also pay court costs of £250.
The court heard Alemu has started a repayment schedule for the £14,294 overpayment she had received.
She was warned any breaches during the time of her community and supervision orders could result in jail.