A former solicitor who lied about her savings to claim housing payments of thousands of pounds from the council has been sentenced.

57-year-old Abosede Panama from Ilford was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work for "dishonestly making a false representation".

Isleworth Crown Court heard on Tuesday (July 12) how Panama made an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s benefit service on September 27 2013 to claim benefits she wasn't entitled to.

She declared she had no money

Panama signed an application confirming she had accumulated rent arrears of £7,033, but when asked about her income and capital, she declared that she held no money in bank accounts.

After being paid £5,130.17 in October that year, an investigation into her circumstances carried out by the council's anti-fraud service revealed she had been lying.



Shocking statements for Panama’s Post Office account showed that on the day she made her application, she had £3,000 in savings - and investigators discovered the account had stood at £8,000 in the months prior to her application.

When interviewed under caution on May 13 2014, the fraudster insisted she had passed the debit card for the Post Office account to her son to assist him with his university studies.

However, investigators noted that the account remained in the sole name of Panama.

During the interview, she admitted that her son had access to his own student funding, including a loan and a grant.

'Dishonest and manipulative'


Judge Edmunds QC said that he took into account Panama’s previous good character and the fact that as a single parent she had brought up five children and provided for them, but added that this was a struggle faced by many in society.



On sentencing her, he said: "I assess your evidence on oath to have been dishonest and manipulative."

He also described her application for the Discretionary Housing Payment to have been “"deliberately dishonest".

In a last slam to the former solicitor, he described her prospects of ever again practising as a solicitor as “bleak”.