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High school teacher in benefits fraud worth £10,000

Claire Sinclair illegally received the money while working at Blairgowrie High.

Court: She claimed thousands (file pic).
Court: She claimed thousands (file pic).

A teacher conned taxpayers out of £10,000 by claiming benefits while pretending to be unemployed.

Claire Sinclair illegally received the money while working at Blairgowrie High School.

Sinclair, 45, claimed a series of benefits over a three-year period when she told authorities she was unemployed and acting as a carer at her home in Crieff.

She continued to receive hundreds of pounds every month despite being employed by the local authority to work as a learning support teacher at Blairgowrie High.

An investigation was launched when the Department for Work and Pensions was tipped off that Sinclair had given false details about her employment status.

Sinclair, of Mitchell Street, was initially charged with obtaining more than £20,000 in benefits she was not entitled to while working as a teacher.

The Crown accepted her guilty plea to a reduced number of charges and a total sum of £10,000 obtained by fraud.

Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie told Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday: "The accused was employed within Perth and Kinross Council's education department. She confirmed she started to work as a teacher in 2013.

"She knew certain changes had to be reported to the Department for Work and Pensions. She confirmed she was sorry she acted this way and was very apologetic to the staff."

Solicitor Cliff Culley, defending, said: "The total figure is £10,000. She is a person of previously good character. She has children and suffers from MS, which was a factor in relation to this matter.

"She is still working but her employment situation may change as a result of what happens today."

Sinclair admitted that between December 3, 2012, and January 11, 2015, she failed to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances and claimed £5000 carers allowance while employed by Perth and Kinross Council.

She also admitted that between December 27, 2013, and December 26, 2014, she claimed £5000 income support after making false representations that she was unemployed.

Sheriff William Wood was told that Sinclair - despite being able to hold down a full-time teaching job - was unable to do unpaid work in the community because of her health.

He ordered Sinclair to repay £10,000 at £500 per month and placed her on a restriction of liberty order for six months.

The sheriff told her: "It doesn't seem to me there is any reason why you should lose your employment."

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