A BENEFITS cheat who conned the taxpayer out of more than £65,000 over 13 years has escaped an immediate jail sentence.

Wendy Morgan, aged 57, of St Sannan Road, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood, falsely claimed Income Support, Employment Support Allowance and Job Seekers Allowance.

Prosecutor Suzanne Payne told Cardiff Crown Court the £65,616.20 fraud was committed between 2003 and 2016.

She said Morgan failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions that she was living with her husband Terry Morgan whilst claiming benefits.

The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining money transfer by deception and five charges of fraud.

Miss Payne said when Morgan was arrested three years ago, she said in interview that she was in a “volatile relationship” with her husband.

The prosecutor added that the defendant said: “Her husband used her address for correspondence and stayed at different places in short-term relationships.”

The Recorder of Cardiff, Judge Eleri Rees, was told Morgan has started to repay the money she owes the state on a monthly basis.

Jeffrey Jones, mitigating, said his client was suffering from a number of ill health conditions and that there had been a “lengthy time lapse” in the case coming to court.

He added: “There was a history of strife in her marriage.”

Morgan had no previous convictions.

Judge Rees told the defendant: “This was a very large amount of money that you obtained over a very long period of time of benefits you were not entitled to.

“It is a great shame because you seem to have led a blameless life.”

The judge said she accepted there had been “crises” in Morgan’s life which “may have had an impact upon your judgement”.

The defendant was jailed for 12 months, suspended for 12 months.

She must also attend 10 rehabilitation activity requirement sessions and pay £250 prosecution costs and a £140 victim surcharge.

There was no application made under the Proceeds of Crime Act.