A shameless benefits cheat who tried dodging the courts by pretending she had cancer was jailed for 15 months imprisonment on Thursday (29).
Christine Areh, 59, broke down in tears as the sentence was passed at Harrow Crown Court in Hailsham Drive, Harrow. She was also ordered to sell her house and repay Harrow Council £15,000 within the next six months or face an additional jail term.
The mother-of-one pleaded guilty to four counts of dishonesty and making false statements in April after claiming more than £50,000 in housing and council tax benefit relating to a property in Stag Lane, Edgware. She also had credit card debts of around £10,000.
Between 2000 and 2004 she claimed to be tenant who paid rent to landlord, Samuel Nwangoro, where in fact she was the joint owner of the house with the landlord who she was in a relationship with.
Officers also discovered she owned other properties including one in Milton Keynes which she was renting out and getting income from.
During an early hearing Areh failed to appear in court and said she was being treated in America for breast cancer.
However, after investigators called the surgeons they had never heard of her.
She then claimed she was suffering from depression but a court concluded she was fit to stand trial after examination by three experts, including her GP.
During her sentencing Tam Latymer, defending, said Areh had cared for her severely autistic daughter and an elderly mother for more than 10 years and that they would suffer if she went to jail. However, her daughter had been in care for a year and only came home on Sundays and Areh had six other siblings who could look after her mother.
Sentencing Areh, Judge Nic Madge, said: "You pleaded guilty to four counts and I give you credit for your plea, albeit at a late stage. I bear in mind you are aged 60 and of previous good character.
"I have been presented reports which refer to you caring for your autistic daughter and mother. I have read notes regarding to your medication, your depressive illness but you were found fit to stand trial.
"Mr Latymer says that this was an isolated incident but this I do not accept. It was one continuous deceitful claim. The fraud lasted over four years and it appears you used the money to pay mortgages on other properties. Your credit card debt of £10,000 suggests you had an extravagant lifestyle. Having regard to your culpability and harm and the seriousness of these offences I have no option but to impose a custodial sentence."