not to be overjoyed that a mother of four is being sent to jail for massive benefit fraud?

(219 Posts)

story here

I just wonder what will happen to the children in this case. The crime Amanda Webber committed is serious and she should be punished but taking the mother away from her 8 children for up to 4 years will have a damaging effect on these children. The sentence should be in the community and involve her paying back society with work, making a contribution - not being housed in a prison.

This is not to undermine the seriousness of the offence I just can't see the 'benefit' to society of locking this person up - she is not dangerous - she does need to accept what she has done is so very wrong and make amends this can be done in a community sentence surely. The children should not be punished if it can be avoided.

Just my thoughts on hearing the news.

The benefit might be that people think twice before committing benefit fraud when they see that it is actually taken seriously?

Roshbegosh Fri 24-May-13 18:42:53

It is a pity for the children but she should have thought of that. I think she is where she should be, women can't get away with crime just because they have children.

Trills Fri 24-May-13 18:43:56

Of course it is not unreasonable to be not overjoyed.

It's never unreasonable to "not be overjoyed" at anything, ever.

ll31 Fri 24-May-13 18:44:16

Think amt she stole justifies sentence. Am sorry for children but don't think community service sentence is enough tbh

Possibly - jail time for crime - does not prevent crime being committed - other wise prisons would not be overcrowded - or am I missing something.confused

Hulababy Fri 24-May-13 18:45:59

Would you feel the same if it was a father of 4 committing benefit fraud?

Or a childless person who was committing benefit fraud?

Hulababy Fri 24-May-13 18:46:49

sorry father of 5 or however many

sweetkitty Fri 24-May-13 18:47:07

Huge amount of money, in surprised it wasn't picked up earlier that her children didn't have disabilities.

She was totally taking the p, a bit different from someone doing a bit if cash in hand work for Christmas or something.

Ceraunia Fri 24-May-13 18:50:07

She actually pretended they had disabilities. I feel sorry for the children only.

AnyaKnowIt Fri 24-May-13 18:51:39

I'm not shocked that she has been jailed.

It wasn't a case of struggling to make ends meet but with gaining £10,000 on some months is greed.

orangepudding Fri 24-May-13 18:51:55

She committed a crime and needs to be punished. Yes it's unfair on her children but she made a choice.

Children are more affected (in general) by their mothers being sent to prison. I believe prison sentences are overused - imaginative community sentencing could be more appropriate and beneficial. In my opinion - I understand the anger this woman's crime has attracted - she is despicable. But will locking her up prevent benefit fraud or make society better? I am not convinced on that point.

HokeyCokeyPigInAPokey Fri 24-May-13 18:54:20

She should not be given a community sentence just because she has children.

Her being jailed might actually make people think twice before committing fraud.

Children are more affected (in general) by their mothers being sent to prison.

She should have thought about that then, should she not?

Hulababy Fri 24-May-13 18:55:03

You can't have one rule for one part of society and not the other.

So, mums can't go to prison but dads can. That just can't work.

WMittens Fri 24-May-13 18:55:38

The crime Amanda Webber committed is serious and she should be punished but taking the mother away from her 8 children for up to 4 years will have a damaging effect on these children.

Am I alone in thinking that it would do them more damage to leave her with them? This could well be the best thing for them.

Hulababy Fri 24-May-13 18:56:47

And the only person who she can blame for hurting her children by not being around for them is herself. She CHOSE to commit the offence, and not just a one off here remember. It was well thought out and executed. She deliberately lied and took what was not hers.

It is her own fault. She is the one who has made this happen.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 24-May-13 18:58:17

So are you saying that if someone commits a crime and happens to be a mother - they should be exempt from facing the consequences of their choice?

I don't think that can ever be right.

I would want a community sentence for most financial crime/ fraud to be considered before a prison sentence. If possible non violent criminals should pay back society through working and making reparations - that goes for men and women.

Ilovemyself Fri 24-May-13 19:03:27

Perhaps if sentences were tougher and prisons not such an easy touch it may actually be a deterrent.

This isn't a matter of her earnings going up and her continuing to claim benefits.

She would have year after year had to make up disabilities for her healthy children and fill in complex forms, which is incredabely sick, tbh.

This will add fuel to those who think that it is easy to have DLA awarded for children and that we need a tightening upof the system, rather than it being a one off.

I bet that next time ATOS is debated, this will be mentioned.

She took it to extremes and let greed take over,because of the amount involved and it being DLA, Carers allowance, which requires greater deception than a simple overpayment of JSA etc, i think that a custodial sentance is appropriate.

She will not serve any where near that time, but it will stay on her record, as it is a sentence of over three years, which was probably the aim.

tiggytape Fri 24-May-13 19:03:58

Anytime a parent is sent to prison, it potentially has life changing consequences for the children they leave behind.
Actually the same goes for adult dependents too - carers and partners and parents who rely on the person who is convicted.

It is very sad that innocent people suffer through something they had no part in but, part of the deterrent of committing more serious crimes is supposed to be knowing the impact on your loved ones if you get caught - what would happen to the children, would they lose their home, lose their job or destroy their marriage if they were got a custodial sentence.

If you literally give mothers a get out of jail card, the deterrent for serious fraud is then pretty minimal compared to the gains to be made.
Community service as a deterrent for a crime netting £350k is no deterrent at all. Even if she did 10 years community service fulltime, it would hardly make up for it in a financial sense let alone as a punishment on top as well.

CAF275 Fri 24-May-13 19:04:52

She should have thought of the consequences before comitting the crime. Zero sympathy from me. Kids are probably better off without her anyway tbh.

Floggingmolly Fri 24-May-13 19:04:55

You not being overjoyed doesn't make the decision a wrong one.

lougle Fri 24-May-13 19:05:36

This woman undermines the claims of people with genuine disability. Who knows if the next claim assessor who reads my DD's renewal form for DLA will have this case in the back of their minds when reading it and find themselves judging our form harshly?

Most people who claim DLA for their children are actually heartbroken to find that a complete stranger has decided that their child is disabled enough to receive it. I know I was. Delighted that I wouldn't have to appeal, but crushed that my 3 year old was that bad, that someone who didn't know her judged her to qualify.

scarletforya Fri 24-May-13 19:05:37

Hm. Sorry I think yabu.

Of course nobody should be overjoyed but I do not buy into the idea that the law should be soft on women just because they are Mothers.

She knew the consequences before she did the crime. The crime that she did over and over again. I don't believe in double standards and special treatment for women who commit crimes on the grounds that they are Mothers. I don't believe that the children are better off with someone who thinks it's okay to screw everyone and then plead for leniancy because she is a Mother. I think that stance is cynical and betrays a nasty attitude in general which will damage the children in many ways.

Sorry, no, I'm not a person who is a benefits basher but she went into this with her eyes open. If she is of that mind then I believe what she is teaching the children in general and on every level will be also wrong. Her attitude is get what you can and screw society. That's detrimental to the children on every level. With that kind of attitude they'll become antisocial and view that as normal.

She's not a fit Mother.

I've no sympathy for her. For her children yes.

MortifiedAdams Fri 24-May-13 19:05:58

If she is the kind of mother who would use her children in this manner for selfish illegal gain then maybe her being away from them will be better for them.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Fri 24-May-13 19:07:22

I sort of agree with you OP. We need really harsh community and other non-jail sentences to deal convincingly with people who have committed very serious crimes but who don't need to be locked up for public safety. Woolly liberals (like me) get het up about orange jumpsuited manual labour gangs etc, but something like that might restore public faith in non-jail based punishment. "Lock her up" should not be the only weapon at our disposal, because it's so expensive, and it doesn't prevent reoffending.

AmandinePoulain Fri 24-May-13 19:07:46

I'm a bit confused - I thought that you needed to see a medical professional to claim DLA? confused hmm

It's people like her that are the reason that my friend with MS is being forced to jump through every hoop imaginable to prove that she is unable to work full time, and I'm sure that she's not the only one having to sit through endless hearings to prove her disability, despite providing evidence from her neurologist, specialist nurse and GP. So yes, this woman does deserve a jail sentence angry. I bet the Daily Fail are having a field day with this one, she'll be held up as proof that everyone on DLA is a feckless scrounger angry.

Having just read the story, I think the real issue lies in the fact that no one seems to have checked out her story. If people are able to get away with committing fraud so easily then they will.

I think that prison is the right answer; she needs to realise just what a shocking crime this is, but a short sentence would probably have done the trick, alongside lots of community work to try to put something back.

infamouspoo Fri 24-May-13 19:11:07

yabu. Think of the impact people like her have on the genuinely disabled who are often labelled fakers and scroungers because of cases like this.

But I am astonished she got away with it. My son has severe cerebral palsy. He is blind and has seizures and I have to fill in DLA forms every 2 years and provide heaps of medical evidence for a child who cannot see, move or speak. And they check.

I think a prison sentence is absolutely right in this case. it was a huge crime and you would hope a deterrant effect may prevail in the case of this sort of crime. I hope her children are getting support - how awful to know your mum lied about you for cash. £10,000 a month on occasion - yes send her to prison. She's a thief and having children is not a get out of jail card for fathers or mothers.

Bearbehind Fri 24-May-13 19:12:11

Absolutely no sympathy for anyone other than the children and they are more than likely going to be better of without her.

It is fine not to be overjoyed but why on earth should some not have to be accountable for their crime just because they have 8 children.

The implications of that are so far reaching its untrue.

How many murderers or rapists have kids.........

ShadeofViolet Fri 24-May-13 19:12:11

This woman deserves all that she gets.

DLA is hard to get, and many children who deserve it are turned down. However she makes those of us that do claim it as bad, and reinforces the (wrong) belief of some that those who claim DLA are cashing in on their disability.

She used her children for her own means. The children are better off without her.

buildingmycorestrength Fri 24-May-13 19:14:17

Would just like to remind everyone that a convicted child abuser was recently given a suspended sentence with 200 hrs work in the community because of the possible impact prison time would have on his wife and two children.

So, he is free. Because him going to prison would mean his wife and kids might lose the house, have to move, etc.

Thingymajigs Fri 24-May-13 19:19:23

The DLA form is huge. There are pages and pages to fill out and you need proof from a specialist doctor and a family member as well as copies of relevant medical information. I find it difficult to fill in adequately and my son has genuine needs and a support team to verify everything.

landofsoapandglory Fri 24-May-13 19:20:10

I've got no symapthy for her, I have for her children but not for her. She knew what she was doing, it wasn't an accident. A lot of thought and preperation had to go into what she did. Her children will be better off without her IMO.

Booyhoo Fri 24-May-13 19:20:24

i have to disagree OP

im afraid i dont think effect on dependants should be taken into account. otherwise people would be making sure they were offically a carer for someone in their family. which means more vulnerable peope being used and manipuated by someone who is willing to commit fraud! vulnerable people should be protected from people like that, not used as a get out of jail free card for them!

scarletforya Fri 24-May-13 19:21:03

Yes building but two wrongs don't make a right.

Booyhoo Fri 24-May-13 19:22:06

"Would just like to remind everyone that a convicted child abuser was recently given a suspended sentence with 200 hrs work in the community because of the possible impact prison time would have on his wife and two children. "

and that is a disgrace!

HandMini Fri 24-May-13 19:22:58

It has to be this way for deterrent to others. The courts also impose higher penalties for crimes involving deception, and as others have said, she must have told some insane lies over years and years.

However, to those who are saying "her children are better off without her"' I would ask who is going to look after them while she's in prison. If its a dad/grandma/perhaps other family member, maybe you're right, but if they're going to be put into care, they're not better off without her. Few children are better off without their mothers. I feel incredibly sorry for three kids.

quoteunquote Fri 24-May-13 19:24:01

Interesting when you compare it to the sentences hand out for raping minors,

It seems you always serve more time for stealing money than sexual assault.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 24-May-13 19:24:25

I'm not overjoyed, but I think she is exactly the sort of person and this is exactly the sort of crime that needs jail time.

This was a long, drawn-out, thought out, intentional crime and it's the sort of crime where harsh jail sentences will actually deter others.

I do feel really sorry for her kids though. Do they have a father?

Greydog Fri 24-May-13 19:25:36

She's a thief, she's stolen from all of us, she's a liar, and she's used her children for gain. No sympathy at all.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 24-May-13 19:31:53

I'd like to know how she managed to do it, tbh. I think that needs investigating.

My children both get dla. I have to send their reports, copies of their statements, details of their medical appointments, evidence of their therapies, their GP is contacted, etc.

I just don't know how she was able to just fill in forms and not provide any supporting evidence for years.

Maybe the fact she had DCs was taken into account. We don't know.

She used her children and committed massive fraud over a long period of time and could be out in 2 years. She might think it was worth it for £10k a month.

It's people like her who give normal law biding people on benefits a bad name. Some try to live without the help they need because they don't want to be looked down on and called a benefit scrounger.
All I hope is that the children have interested father(s) and grandparents who will care for them and show them a life without stealing.

LIZS Fri 24-May-13 19:50:29

I think lougle has hit the nail on the head . Her behaviour, like that of others similarly fleecing the system, colours judgement of and leaves less resources available for those in genuine need. Just because she is not "dangerous" in the physical sense doesn't lessen her crime.

I'm not overjoyed she had been sent to prison. But at the end of the day SHE choose to steal for 10 yrs.

Yes the children will suffer, they lose their mum for 2/4 yrs. They will probably lose their places at the fee paying school their at. Not to mention having everyone around them knowing what their mother has done.

Wuldric Fri 24-May-13 20:12:16

I think a long custodial sentence is entirely appropriate. She had no sense of community and just took what she wanted regardless. You say that she should not be incarcerated because she has children. That's just sentiment. It is equally possible to argue that the children would be better off not being raised by a criminal parent. At least this way, they learn that crime does not pay.

kilmuir Fri 24-May-13 20:15:58

Not much of a mother who committed serious fraud, pretended her children were disabled, .
Why should she get a non jail sentence just because she had children.

cozietoesie Fri 24-May-13 20:17:53

I see that she last claimed in 2010. For those who were querying just how she did it in light of the hoops they themselves have to go through - has the system changed at all in the last 3 years (I don't know, myself - I was just wondering if that was an explanation or a partial explanation.)

maddening Fri 24-May-13 20:19:15

It is v sad for her children but it is she that has done this to them and it is her responsibility alone -yyou commit a crime and you are punished - if you have dependants your actions also may detrimentally affect them - that is on your shoulders.

maddening Fri 24-May-13 20:24:32

Buildingmycorestrength - I don't think anyone agrees that the abuser should have had a lenient sentence due to dependants - from responses I would imagine most would feel he should have had a tougher sentence (far far tougher imo) - that fact that some idiot has effectively let him get away with it does not mean that she should also.

Groovee Fri 24-May-13 20:25:18

So many parents with child who DO have disabilities get denied DLA and struggle financially and emotionally. It's totally unfair that she was able to cheat the system when others desperately need that help.

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 20:28:12

if it was a dad with children would you feel the same yabu really she comitted a serious crime women in prison must be terrible for their children but tbh I think she deserves it, community services would not rehabilitate her I dont think

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 20:29:24

if she had robbed a post office of the same money would you feel she shouldn't be away from her children , what about mugging somebody ?

Thingymajigs Fri 24-May-13 20:30:15

The form hasn't changed as far as I know cozie and we've been claiming since 2007. I can only imagine she made everything up including medical reports, contact details for the GP etc. The form is extensive, I can't imagine the work involved in filling out 5 of those when you don't have the required information.
This suggests that the forms aren't checked. Which doesn't surprise me because, as I said, they are very long. That needs to be looked at, especially as people will be looking at this and thinking they can get away with the same scam.

Jan49 Fri 24-May-13 20:32:54

I don't understand how she claimed DLA.

When I first claimed for my ds in 2002 you had to give contact details of a teacher, doctor or other specialist who could tell them more about your dc's disability. So if the people assessing your claim contacted that person they'd either find out the person knew nothing about it or you'd have to have lied and put down a friend and pretended they were an expert or whatever, which could be checked.

But when I renewed the claim, they only asked for a statement from someone who knew the child and they agreed when I asked that it could be my ds's father, who didn't live with us, so he filled in a statement and they accepted that. On the latest form, that part of the form is optional, so you might just fill in the form without anyone backing up what you write. But you're asked for details of their GP, a teacher and any doctors or specialists they've seen and when they saw them. A minimal amount of checking should surely catch out a cheat.

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 20:37:18

people can coach their children to be ill and fool health visitors and gps , it does go on sickening she is so greedy that she could do that, she could have planted the seeds in her childrens heads from a young age so they believe they are poorly sad

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 20:37:38

to pretend to be ill is what i meant

Roary1 Fri 24-May-13 20:42:25

I just wish the courts could enforce bankruptcy on her and keep her inside for longer. She will be out in 2 years for swindling £350K-hardly a fitting sentence. Her children are better off away from her and being brought up by someone with moral standards.

Hulababy Fri 24-May-13 20:43:26

To be fair to prisons - they are not the easy ride the media would have us believe. I have spent a fair bit of time within a prison, been in the cells, been on the wings, been in the hospital and seg units, all of the prison . I have spoken 1:1 with various prisons from petty criminals to murderers, rapists and child abusers. It isn't really a bit of a doddle, with lots of privledges.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 24-May-13 20:44:32

The situation is of her own making and no sympathy at all for her. Children with law breakers for parents are often better off without them.

Not read the article but i hope she has to pay it all back, think of how much schools or hospitals could have benefitted from that money.

Roary1 Fri 24-May-13 20:45:40

I also hope when the greedy cow gets out she is NEVER allowed to get one more penny off the taxpayer.

No idea how she could even manage to do this, you need an astounding amount of proof to claim DLA.

LessMissAbs Fri 24-May-13 20:55:20

What sort of message do you think will be given to her children if she isn't given a lengthy custodial sentence, OP?

On balance, the sentence is more likely to benefit the children in the long term, than harm them.

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 20:56:49

No idea how she could even manage to do this, you need an astounding amount of proof to claim DLA.

I know it baffled me too some people with genuine illness disability have to jump through hoops of fire just to get lower rate, she has had to have coached those kids or something, anyway kids are better off without a mother like her anyway, what chance do they have with her

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 20:57:59

too many anyways in my last post blush

MrsPoglesWood Fri 24-May-13 20:59:16

No OP. She deserves to spend time in prison. Being a mother should never exempt someone from spending time in prison for an offence as serious as this. And it is serious. If she'd stolen that amount of money from her employer or a bank her sentence would've been double.

And Roary1 the authorities are going for a 'proceeds of crime' order to recover the money, which will most likely mean her house will be sold. Re-payment of stolen funds isn't part of the sentence/punishment as it is just what happens as a matter of course. The punishment comes on top of the repayment/asset seizing. You don't get to keep the money just cos you've served a couple of years inside.

Mrs I can't even get low rate at the moment and I get ESA (have done for a fair while now) and have even been passed as unfit for work by Atos. This just doesn't seem believable.

Even coaching them doesn't make sense as it said the school had no knowledge of it.

xylem8 Fri 24-May-13 21:04:11

I am guessing she must have falsified medical reports too?

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 21:06:31

Our prisons are full.
It costs thousands to keep someone incarcerated.
She should be punished but sticking her in jail does not make financial sense long or short term.

She is not a danger to the public. She can't pay it back whilst she is in there.

If she hit someone over the head with a bottle in a drunken fight and gave them brain damage she could get less than 4 years.

We seem to punish greed and dishonesty more harshly than violent crime and I don't understand why.

mrsjay Fri 24-May-13 21:12:25

I agree with you about the violence greed thinks Mrsdevere a bank robber will get longer than somebody who has assaulted somebody. I still think she has comitted fraud so should be punished though

SirChenjin Fri 24-May-13 21:15:20

Anyone who commits certain crimes should expect a jail sentence, regardless of whether they have a penis or a vagina, children or no children. It's called personal responsibility, something all adults are supposed to possess.

McNewPants2013 Fri 24-May-13 21:18:58

If this was an benefit cheat struggling to make ends meet I would have sympathy, however I can't have any sympathy for a women who claimed 5 of her children was disabled to get extra money.

I think the children would be better off without her, no loving parent would makeup an illness to cash in extra money

expatinscotland Fri 24-May-13 21:20:50

Diddums. I can't say I feel any sympathy for her. The taxpayer will never see a penny of that money.

JessicaBeatricceFletcher Fri 24-May-13 21:23:17


Person A commits serious financial crime and gets 4 years.

Person B commits identical serious financial crime and gets community service because they have children whereas Person B doesn't?

Oh do me a favour.

MrsPoglesWood Fri 24-May-13 21:24:35

Our prisons are full because people who should be in hospitals receiving treatment for mental illness are in there when they shouldn't be, which is shameful for our society.

But this woman should be in prison. This was a massive and well planned fraud. We cannot say that only people who commit violent crime should be locked up. Those who commit financial crimes do untold damage to many. For example those who defraud pensioners out of thousands of pounds for dodgy roof repairs and those who set up fraudulent investment schemes and steal peoples life savings with devastating results. We are forever being told that we are broke as a country and I know it's a cliche but £350k would pay for a lot of nurses, teaching assistants and drugs that are being rationed due to cost.

And let's not forget that it is people like her that the Government are using as an excuse to batter the real sick and disabled and to make benefits for those who are really ill almost impossible to get.

chandellina Fri 24-May-13 21:25:51

Yabu to think community service is adequate for such blatant fraud. Unfortunately her children may have been brought up to believe such actions are okay.

ZillionChocolate Fri 24-May-13 21:32:00

The sentence is right on the guidelines which the Judge had to consider. The effect on her children will have been considered.

It's such a massive amount of money. Even with a confiscation order it's unlikely she'll repay all the money I reckon. Some of it will be spent and lost forever. I'm not sure what we should do with people who are so dishonest and steal so much money.

MikeLitoris Fri 24-May-13 21:32:15

I'm tempted to commit benefit fraud but the consequence could be a hefty jail term.


Im tempted to commit benefit fraud but the consequence could be some imaginative community service.

Not so much of a deterrent is it?

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 21:34:22

But she committed huge benefit fraud even though the consequences were a long prison sentence. confused

MikeLitoris Fri 24-May-13 21:42:43

But how many times have we seen a mother given a long prison sentence for it?

She is being made an example of. Hopefully to deter others from doing the same. It will also show her children that what she has done is wrong.

I know a mother in the same situation. She claimed for years for her 'disabled son. She was recently caught and given a prison sentence. Her son was also caught and given a prison sentence at the same time. He grew up thinking benefit fraud was the norm.

The cycle needs to be broken.

SirChenjin Fri 24-May-13 21:44:14

Perhaps she believed that she would get away with it, and that even if she was caught she wouldn't go to jail as the mum of 5 children.

Chanatan Fri 24-May-13 21:46:49

According to the daily mail,she had 8 childeren and was claiming for 5 of them.

thezebrawearspurple Fri 24-May-13 21:49:01

Being a mother is no excuse to escape justice, it is because of dishonest people like this woman that vulnerable people who genuinely need help are made to jump through hoops to get it, resources aren't always available and right wingers use mass fraud as an excuse to take benefits from the sick and disabled. If the welfare state is to be strong enough to care for those unfortunate enough to need it then it must be robustly defended against thieving, lying parasites who seek to exploit it's benevolence.

Pity it couldn't be four years of hard labour. Her children will be looked after by relatives or by foster carers, they will understand that it's their mothers fault for defrauding the state, this may discourage them from following in her footsteps. Hopefully whoever is caring for them will teach them right from wrong, this could be the best thing for them.

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 21:55:10

So it didn't deter her
Why is it going to deter anyone else?

The law has not changed. It was the law when she did it.
Mothers get put in prison frequently. Holloway is full of women with children.

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 21:57:54

'It is estimated that more than 17,240 children
were separated from their mother in 2010 by

There doesn't seem to be the expectation that having a child or a uterus will stop you going to prison.

MrsPoglesWood Fri 24-May-13 22:04:15

Because like the majority of people who break the law she didn't think she'd get caught. Prison sentences as a deterrent only work for those who are half hearted about it, think better of it and don't do it. And so we never hear about them, because they don't commit the crime.

Serving 30 years for murder doesn't seem to deter anyone here from killing nor does the death penalty in the USA. Because they don't think they will get caught.

I have never expressed sympathy for Amanda Webber - she deserves none - her children do. I just don't believe that incarceration is the correct response for financial crime - short prison sentences for petty theft is also pointless - it is no deterrent, costs the state thousands of tax payers money - and to what end? More children in the care system, more drug addicts getting locked up for a bit then chucked back on the street.

To me - It doesn't matter what people think someone deserves for a particular crime - I am more interested in the actual effect prison has - do prison sentences work? Is society a better and safer place tonight because Webber is behind bars? Is there a better way to deal with certain crimes? I think it is healthy to question. I don't pretend to have the answers but I do have questions. grin

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 22:11:50

Prison doesn't work though does it?
I think that is fairly wildly accepted isn't it?

Why should she get away with it by going to prison? She should pay it back. Surely for a greedy mare like her that would be more of a punishment?

She has a lot of children. If family can't have them they won't get a sibling placement. Even if family can have them they will be split up because its unlikely anyone can take on that many kids.

If she had killed someone I suppose we would have to accept the damage done to her children because there would be no reasonable alternative to locking her up.

But there are alternatives in this case. But its all about the money.

LucieLucie Fri 24-May-13 22:26:22

She had better hope karma doesn't come and bite her on the arse for telling those awful lies about the illnesses her children had. People like her don't deserve the children they produce.

I don't think prison is the answer -she has already helped herself to tax payers money long enough. They should be going for her property and assets under the proceeds of crime act.
Hit her where it hurts, greedy bitch.

MrsPoglesWood Fri 24-May-13 22:26:46

But she isn't going to get away with it by going to prison. She has to serve her prison sentence AND repay the money. Everyone who is prosecuted for benefit fraud has to repay the money alongside whatever judicial sentence they are given. The order to repay is never part of the sentence because the repayment is a matter of fact and not a punishment.

Her house will be seized and sold. A seven bedroom detached house in Sussex, with its own dance studio, should easily realise £350k I would've thought.

And yes, I appreciate that some local authority or other will ultimately have to pick up the bill for housing her 8 children when they are evicted but I doubt it will cost the £10k a month she was receiving in benefits that she wasn't entitled to.

IKnowWhat Fri 24-May-13 22:32:06

I think she should go to prison. I can't stand benefit fraud.

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 22:33:07

Yeah it very probably will.
Some LAs can pay up to £800 per week to FC agencies for ONE child.

Even if they have plenty of LA placements it costs an awful, awful lot to keep a child in care. 10k per month for 8 children wouldn't be that far out.

i think prison can work, for more serious more violent crimes, longer sentences with good drug and réhabilitation programmes, training, education and proper transition back to society. or proctection for the public by keeping violent dangerous predatory criminals locked up. But these are more expensive, Governments barely want to admit that prisoners are actually fed and clothed and kept warm in winter, for fear of losing votes.

but chucking some drug addicted thief just out of the care system, or a benefit fraudster with eight children, into prison for a short time then turning them back out, this time with a criminal record and zero chance of getting work - how does this prevent crime? I don't feel that sorry for them, but what about the subsequent crimes, they are now more desperate and more likely to commit?

ariane5 Fri 24-May-13 22:37:46

Sorry I have not read the whole thread (having a v busy evening with dcs) but I had to comment as I cannot believe how a mother could lie like that.

The dla forms were absolutely heartbreaking for me to fill in about my dcs I cannot understand how a person with healthy children could fill them in and lie.

I actually cry every time I have to renew the claims as it really brings home what dcs have to put up with.
I think she deserves to be in jail and I hope it does act as a deterrent to others.

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 22:41:59

Just some very quick sums.
It costs 25k to keep a child in care for a year
It cost 47k to keep a person in prison for a year
times that by the amount of children and the amount of years.

comes to £1,504,000

in the short term. That doesn't take into account the long term affects of children being in care e.g. education attainment, psychological damage etc.

I didn't know she would be expected to pay the money back so that makes more sense.

But as her LA will probably have to house her when she comes out, none of it seems to make much sense financially.

MrsPoglesWood Fri 24-May-13 22:42:27

Ah well, even if it costs us in the short term the prison sentence was right. It was a massive, planned and deliberate fraud and it took the piss out of those who have children who really need DLA. And it played into the hands of the government who want to limit benefits for disabled children and who have made it almost impossible to get them.

Fuck her. She robbed us all, five times over.

shockers Fri 24-May-13 22:51:15

So... Mums of Britain, do what you will... it will be more expensive to treat you like any other CRIMINAL, so therefore not worth the bother... go for it!

ariane5, I know exactly what you mean. The forms, on top of everything else, for me became a trigger for depression, so I decided not to claim DLA for my DD. Apparently, that now means she has limited support for transition from her (special) school to college.

I've let her down by not claiming benefit, even though she needs constant supervision at age 15.

It must be a lot easier to fill in those forms when its a work of fantasy, then when its your child's actual life.

Borntobeamum Fri 24-May-13 22:57:16

She wasn't thinking about her children and the consequences while stealing all that money was she?

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 22:57:16

It is getting more and more difficult to have any sort of actual debate on MN. Too much shouting and exclamation marks if you attempt it.

BTW shockers I have had to fill in many DLA forms in the last 10 years so I am fully aware of how fucking horrible they are.

I had to do one under the special rules a few years back. Now that was fun.

MrsDeVere Fri 24-May-13 22:58:00

No born she wasn't.
Doesn't mean that I can't.

Donki Fri 24-May-13 23:02:38

MrsDV expecting rational debate? shock
You'll be demanding an evidence based sentencing policy next.
How unreasonable!

ariane5 Fri 24-May-13 23:04:54

They are horrible to fill in and I am actually amazed that somebody could cheat the system this way-I had to send so many letters/reports and then additional more in depth ones were also requested from dcs consultants.

Those poor children though, being used like that. I do think she deserves jail but I hope they at least have family they can live with rather than all being split up.

Pixel Fri 24-May-13 23:14:42

And Roary1 the authorities are going for a 'proceeds of crime' order to recover the money, which will most likely mean her house will be sold

I read in the paper that the £10,000 per month included £2000 housing benefit so does that mean she doesn't own the house? Or are there circumstances where HB will pay someone's mortgage or something like that? I wouldn't have thought so but if she had lots of disabled children apparently and no available housing stock big enough for them then perhaps they would? Especially as she'd split from her husband and the children needed housing. (genuine question, I haven't a clue if they'd do that).

Anyway, I agree with all the people that are saying she is just making things harder for genuine claimants and perpetuating the myth that DLA fraud is rife. Also she should think herself lucky to have healthy children, not use them in such a despicable way.

I wonder why the husband wasn't implicated? Surely he wondered where the money was coming from, but they haven't even been able to name him.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 24-May-13 23:17:56

Sentences aren't just about the criminal, their family and how much it costs.

If this thread is representative of society, and I realise it might not be, but if it is, then the overwhelming response is that society wants crimes against it to be dealt with harshly.

If as a society we want benefit fraud to be severely punished, then it should be, regardless of cost and regardless of whether it messes up the criminals life or not. They made their choice when they committed the offence.

shockers Fri 24-May-13 23:22:48

Was the shouting and exclamation marks comment directed at me MrsD?

I'm allowed an opinion, am I not? In my opinion (and that of the law), she is a criminal, because she committed a crime and she did it with forethought and planning.

People like her have made claiming DLA much more difficult for people like us.

shockers Fri 24-May-13 23:24:31

MrsD, I am also so sorry that you had to do that.

ThePathanKhansAmnesiac Sat 25-May-13 00:24:49

OP Yanbu.

Can,t see how it serves the tax payer to keep this woman in the prison system and her children, perhaps, in care.

cumfy Sat 25-May-13 00:56:22

How was she able to do this though ?

Surely GPs/consultants/school needed to sign-off these disabilities ?

minouminou Sat 25-May-13 01:00:39

She could fill those forms in because she knew the details weren't real. I guess she just didn't think too much about it, beyond what material gain she'd get.

cumfy Sat 25-May-13 01:09:18

Bet the house is in his name.hmm

salsmum Sat 25-May-13 02:00:50

So she was living in a 7 bedroomed house and said that her kids had disabilities so she could fraudulently claim for them????? As a mother of a 24 year old with genuine severe disabilities what she did was wicked and took the money off people who really need it. I think she bloody well should be jailed [angry.

madhousequeen Sat 25-May-13 02:15:29

how did she claim DLA?

My Dc gets it but we had to supply tons of evidence (reports from Paed, Salt, Ot, school, Ep) and the DWP wrote to some of them on top to get more information. and we still had to appeal.

really gobsmacked that somebody managed to claim it without any evidence.shock

theodorakisses Sat 25-May-13 06:42:40

If she is sent to prison so should any professionals who didn't check on her

JustAnotherSod Sat 25-May-13 07:37:05

The children have a father who will care for them in her absence, he took legal action to ensure their names are publicised in connection with the case, so no cost of foster care for 5 needs to be considered.

fromparistoberlin Sat 25-May-13 08:04:04

i tend to agree

yes a crime is a crime

however the cost to society and to her children will be HUGE

I do think that IF a criminal is a mother with sole care of children, this should be taken into account

i hate reading about shoplifting mothers and prostitiutes in jail, there should be some alternative

its not about being soft on women, its about taking their children into account

JakeBullet Sat 25-May-13 08:08:49

I m wondering how she claimed DLA as well, DS gets it (autistic) and the form and the required evidence is massive. It's so bad that I have help to complete it (and I am a confident and educated person), am amazed that she was able to claim it if her children were supposedly fine.

JakeBullet Sat 25-May-13 08:13:34

...I have two massive folders filled with correspondence from paediatricians, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, Statement of SEN etc etc. I have to include some of all the correspondence to support the DLA claim. I have no idea how she managed this unless she generated fraudulent letters. I also have to give the name of people they can talk to....the paediatrician, DS's 1-1 at school etc.

Just gobsmacked how anyone can make a fraudulent claim.

I knew her very vaguely years ago. I think some of the children may be old enough to care for their siblings by now, I'm not entirely sure but counting on my fingers I think so.

God knows how she got away with it. Ds1 was awarded DLA for life, but as well as us providing reports the people in DLA contacts professionals who know him.

fromparistoberlin Sat 25-May-13 08:21:38

yes, everyone on here says its a nightmare to get benefits (and I beleive them) so how the fuck do fraudsters do it

She portrays herself as an autism mum. That's how I knew her. And she says on her twitter page that she's an autism expert.

I wonder whether the kids have been told they are autistic when they aren't? If so she deserves a few years for that.

sashh Sat 25-May-13 08:28:27

We seem to punish greed and dishonesty more harshly than violent crime and I don't understand why.

This was not a single crime, she has been found guilty of 23 single crimes.

helenaconhambarter Sat 25-May-13 08:43:08

Haven't read the whole thread, so apologies if this has already been mentioned, but surely some blame must lie with those departments and agencies that allowed her to get away with making these fraudulent claims, as they can't have been making the necessary checks.

I hope serious questions are being asked of them too, and disciplinary action taken where appropriate.

These cases always seem to be discovered after anonymous tip-offs. It's mad that the benefit system has to rely on the general public to uncover fraud. It should not be allowed to happen in the first place.

SirChenjin Sat 25-May-13 10:08:58

Agree Helen.

Mimishimi Sat 25-May-13 10:11:53

YABU. It sounds like she wanted an upper middle-class life for herself (almost certain that is her background too) and her children but at taxpayer's expense. She could have done that legitimately by entering politics....

ShellyBoobs Sat 25-May-13 10:18:32


And I don't agree with people saying that she should be let off prison as it would be cheaper and better for the children. hmm

Bowlersarm Sat 25-May-13 10:21:27


Do the crime, do the time.

She knew perfectly well what she was doing.

You can't have one penalty for people who have children, and another penalty for those who don't.

ophelia275 Sat 25-May-13 10:54:13

YABU. Lots of criminals have children. You can't have one rule for one set of criminals and another for the rest.

She knew what she was doing and she knew she could get sent to prison and be separated from her kids. Presumably she thought that the judge wouldn't send her to prison because she has kids and she could carry on with just a slap on the wrist.

I think too many people get off being properly punished because they have children and use this as an excuse. Although it is sad on the children, she is the one who caused this for her children and perhaps they will have a better influence if they are not living with a mother who is happy to indulge in fraud and sets a bad example to her kids?

Oblomov Sat 25-May-13 11:10:28

I have zero sympathy for HER. She claimed DLA etc for 12 years. Back then, and even now, it is no surprise that minimal checks weren't made.
And yet, extremely deserving children are denied DLA. Makes me so MAD.

CaptainJamesTKirk Sat 25-May-13 11:12:20


Being a mother does not and should not exclude you from going to prison if you've committed a crime.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 25-May-13 11:20:01

Saintly I also vaguely knew her, she runs a theatre school with a name and particularly nice animation implying a SN provision, but nothing about why, or obvious provision for them in any of the services offered. Closer reading gives the name was because ‘they were “different” from other schools.’

She was selling herself as a musical director (either husband or a son was listed as staff) and publicised her children as having ‘caught the acting bug from her’, and ‘all been trained by their mother’ and their successes, but never mentioning either them, or other pupils having SN’s, or the school offering provision for SN’s other than a single line on one page “we have much experience in children with special needs.”

It seemed odd that so much was implied by the name and animation, but not specified, and I was suspicious, but of something different. It's making sense now.

I think I know how she backed up her claims, and the authorities would have had a hard time unravelling it.

I don’t feel great about her going to prison, but people like her are part of why people like me are afraid to claim DLA.

I need people to trust and believe me when I say visibly severely brain damaged d/d can do some things that she doesn’t look like she can and help her try, and help less visible high achieving d/s with ASD, when we ask for access arrangements, help, supervision, mentoring, and understanding, (not money) especially when he’s lost the plot and stopped knowing how to cope.

Often the only thing I can say to people who say ‘he doesn’t look like he needs it’, or who are disbelievingly shocked on discovering him not coping, or what his paperwork says, is why do you think a teen would live like, or do this, if they didn’t have to?

It’s a compelling argument that grants acceptance, until people like her supply them with an alternative answer. sad

mrsjay Sat 25-May-13 11:31:11

She portrays herself as an autism mum. That's how I knew her. And she says on her twitter page that she's an autism expert.

I wonder whether the kids have been told they are autistic when they aren't? If so she deserves a few years for that.

more than likely they thought they were autistic it is sickening she did this to her children she probably has no shame, horrible manipulative person, asd is very difficult to get diagnosed sometimes, I think she was an aspirational snob who got what she deserved

Viviennemary Sat 25-May-13 11:32:35

It is a shame for her children as they have committed no crime. However, she has committed a serious fraud offence by theft of public money. I am not overjoyed but agree totally with the penalty. If you started saying oh but this person has children where does it end. Community service for a crime involving the theft of £350K. No.

Despite impressions to the contrary I do not have sympathy for the benefit fraudster, I do question the utility of a prison sentence - not just due to costs. I do not think Amanda Webber should be allowed to 'get away' with anything. Hearing her story prompted a train of thought which I shared with MN - in a way she is a bad example as her fraud is so very extreme and despicable.

I do think it is unhelpful to place 'criminals' in a classification of their own deserving to all be treated the same. It is not true, crimes are not all the same. The people who commit crimes are not all the same.

Many people who would not consider themselves 'criminals' do something against the law in their lifetimes - speeding, under age drinking, serving drinks to someone under age, taking recreational drugs, stealing from a shop 'by accident', so many petty crimes and more serious ones. Knowingly and deliberately and repeatedly defrauding the state is a terrible crime, but is a prison sentence the only recourse? I do not know, I just wanted to ask a question. Many people are content with the prison sentence. That is fine, I just wonder if there are other ways that people can be made to address their offending behavior in a way that could help others. That a devious mind could be turned to make a positive contribution. I am not a Christian but I do believe it is possible to redeem people.

If crime and punishment policy was purely decided on a majority rules basis then I imagine that we would have very severe sentencing and the death penalty. I am not sure the US example is very reassuring in modelling that approach. I would not feel safer in a state where convicted criminals are killed. Obviously I am in a minority - that does not make me feel safe either confused

Jan49 Sat 25-May-13 11:42:02

I'm surprised that people were asked to provide lots of evidence. My ds received DLA from 2002 as he has an autistic spectrum disorder. I filled in the forms and that included giving names of specialists he'd seen, the expert who diagnosed him, his teacher and GP, but I was never asked for further evidence and I've no idea if anyone I'd named was ever contacted for proof and I was never asked for anything. So if they didn't contact anyone, they had no proof of anything. It's a horrible form to fill in but other than that my ds's claim seemed straightforward.

SirChenjin Sat 25-May-13 11:58:07

I'm not sure what you mean BigMouth - that you are in a minority of what, and feel unsafe how?

lottieandmia Sat 25-May-13 12:07:26

I can't believe she got away with this - how did she manage to get the applications past decision makers without medical and school reports?

There are lost of people with genuine claims who get rejected because the decision makers are very tough.

Donki Sat 25-May-13 12:11:50

Bigmouth you may be in a minority - but do not feel alone. There are others of us who feel similarly.

minority regarding my opinion on crime and punishment - and that if we had a death penalty again and most people supported it I would not feel safer.

Donki Sat 25-May-13 12:19:38

I agree BM - and all the hysteria and vengeful comments about the dreadful crime in Woolwich don't help. Lynch mob mentality makes me feel very unsafe.

Thanks Donki - I am probably considered all wibbly, PC and liberal - but all this knee jerk vitriol over the internet is horrible, so was the murder. Division and suspicion seems to me to play into the hands of the twisted men that killed the soldier.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 25-May-13 12:28:04

Bigmouth, I can see where you’re coming from. In this case if what this woman has done is what it seems she has, then it goes past simple fraud and theft, as she’s indirectly damaged so many people who are already very vulnerable to being suspected of not needing help, and that is a hidden outcome of her crime which I feel needs a huge deterrent outcome to stop others.

I can’t see a restitution based approach achieving that, and frankly if you told me I could give my children an amazing life full of opportunities through crime, and then pay for it later in ways that didn’t affect them, given that I can’t achieve it any other way, you’d lay huge temptation at my feet.

I don’t find her unredeemable as a person but think you have to look at the big picture as to what is most or least damaging to society case by case.

To the best of my knowledge she's left and is in a different relationship, the children will stay either with dad, or the new partner, she'll serve around two years if she plays the game, and nasty and hideous as it sounds, actually the children do need a clear message that their mum's descisions aren't those of a heroic mum giving them a wonderful life of opportunity. sad

When your parents commit crime as a way of life, you get punished in many ways and it can't be avoided.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 25-May-13 12:40:07

that should say choose to commit crime as a way of life...

Donki Sat 25-May-13 12:41:10

Just I think looking at a bigger picture is exactly what is needed - maybe to provide better support for the children of prisoners, maybe to find better methods of rehabilitation.

Prison at the moment is not notably successful in its intentions - and in the US where the laws tend to be even more draconian, and prisons more inhumane (as I understand it), there is a larger proportion of the population in gaol, so it does not look much like a successful deterrent either.

A higher certainty of being caught would (I think the evidence shows, but I am not going to go and look for references now) be a much better deterrent. However I realise that this might be difficult to achieve, especially without making the barriers to legitimate claims more difficult to overcome.

I don't think that there are any easy answers - and I am uncomfortably aware that the inhumane "penitentiaries" in the US originated in the best of intentions from Christians (Quakers!) trying to find a way of making prison work as rehabilitation by giving prisoners time to reflect on their crimes and repent...

Donki Sat 25-May-13 12:44:21

<Waves at Just just-in-case you are who I suspect you may be>

I'm shocked she managed to get all that? DS2 did have problems and I didn't get a penny even though his problems meant I couldn't work. Thankfully he's outgrown them and is so settled. I start full time work soon something that would've been very difficult a year ago. But I didn't get a penny's help.

But this woman is appalling. She should go to prison. No sympathy whatsoever. There are many who could do with some extra cash but don't get it.

YABU, tbh I struggle to describe anyone who pretends their children has multiple, severe disabilities just because they want money as a 'parent' at all.

ophelia275 Sat 25-May-13 13:31:07

Does anyone know if she will actually have to repay the money?

Jamillalliamilli Sat 25-May-13 13:35:39

(Waves cautiously at Donki, and hopes for a pm to tell me if I’ve outed myself please?)

There are people who can be rehabilitated, but usually what you’re doing is giving them in a more expensive form, what they should have been given in the first place to give them the skills to understand things from a different perspective.

Many you'd have an uphill struggle to give them any reason why they should have a problem with what they've done.

Most people are only interested in seeing good and bad, the good lauded and the bad punished.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 25-May-13 13:36:53

Ophelia they're going after a confiscation order.

adverbial Sat 25-May-13 14:42:55

If was a lesser sum over shorter period of time, and not fraudulently claiming five children had a disability, then OP you might have a point.

But I don't think mob mentality plays a part here, it's a really extreme case of benefit fraud, there was no other punishment to fit the crime. It would be harsher sentence for her had the money been taken from another financial institution.

She didn't really need that money to fund her own school and drama for her children. Just seems to me that greed, and taking the easy route were heavily involved.

MrsDeVere Sat 25-May-13 15:10:05

I am confused at the comments about sympathy for the woman.

I haven't seen anyone expressing any sympathy what so ever for her.

Those questioning the custodial sentences are doing so for very different reasons.

The fact that could cost over one and half million quid is one of them.

I wish people would read properly and not just react without thinking.

It gets on my nerves.

No one thinks what she did is ok
No one thinks she should get away with it.
No one feels sorry for her.

I am pretty unimpressed at the lack of sympathy shown for her children. Seems like its ok to feel sorry for kids until their parents commit a crime.

Children of criminals suffer terribly. Horrible far reaching consequences.
Saying 'well she should have thought about that shouldn't she' is not good enough.

We all need to think about it and work out the best way of achieving justice, not revenge.

And this woman being the reason why its so hard for the rest of us? Rubbish! DLA fraud is very low. This extreme case is NOT why its so hard for the rest of us to get support. It is because the system is flawed and decisions are made my faceless figures with no medical or disability related training.

As demonstrated by the recent case of two IDENTICAL twins with Down syndrome and the same associated complications. One awarded, one turned down.

Don't buy into the propaganda that blames claimants - legitimate or otherwise for the lottery that is DLA.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 25-May-13 17:54:36

Mrs DV I don’t think prison is actually the answer, but I’ve not seen anyone come up with any other consequence for parents who successfully use their children to commit fraud in order to enhance their and their children’s lives, that would actually be any deterrent and wouldn’t damage the children. Are there actually any?

I do have sympathy for her children, their situation’s going to be rotten all ways round, but she hasn’t suddenly been ripped from home and jailed. She’s and her husband and (later) the new partner, have had from late 2009 to prepare and work it out for them as best as they can.

I suspect why it didn’t deter her, is because she thought she’d found a way of doing it that worked and saw herself as high enough up the food chain to not be imprisoned, and still has a fall back story of misunderstood supermum.

I spent a lot of my childhood on V/O’s. It taught me a lot, most of which wasn’t the intended messages, but one that was, was that children will always suffer the consequences of adult decisions, so teaching me that lesson had an effect.

We seem to punish greed and dishonesty more harshly than violent crime and I don't understand why.

It depends who’s guilty of the greed and dishonesty, but as a general rule it’s because those who made law, then developed case law, were more easily able to protect themselves from violence from those under them, than from greed and dishonesty, and not much has actually changed there. (did say I may not have got the intended messages)

Justgiving - I knew her from a small, supportive, private online autism support group. Although actually she was a big reason I left (along with almost everyone else) - she had a habit of laying into people. But anyway because it was private it was the sort of place where people shared details (lots on DLA forms as well). Wonder whether she stole our stories for her applications ???

digerd Sat 25-May-13 18:52:01

Not being overjoyed that she was allowed to cheat like this as no medical proof was asked for, is an understatement. I am shock.
Also she should be made to pay the money back with interest plus a large fine.
The children should not suffer for her cheating but they have benefitted from the money.

4 years in prison? Who will look after the children now, their dad(s)?

MrsDeVere Sat 25-May-13 18:53:43

just she sounds as if she has a particular type of personality and the short time she will actually spend in prison is unlikely to change her unfortunately.

I don't know her but I suspect she is extremely narcissistic. She put her children at risk for 'extras' not food or warmth. She sounds as if she is a pushy stage mum and involved in situations where she gets to be Queen Bee. Small internet groups are ideal for that sort of thing saintly.

I predict she will come out and do the rounds of the trash mags and possibly try and write a book.

I suspect the only thing she has done wrong is get caught.

Unfortunately, despite what some people have said, I doubt her children are better off away from her. Not if they are in care.

I doubt any family member could take all the children and they will get feck all help from SS to help support them.

But of course this is all speculation.

I reckon the best punishment for a woman like this would be to work in a low status job, providing a service for people she sees beneath her and having to hand over most of her wages to pay off her debts.

Even if the family where on benefits it would be cheaper than the prison/care alternative.

MoodyDidIt Sat 25-May-13 19:06:52

i can't believe it was not picked up earlier

do these benefits people not CHECK stuff, like disabilities etc

i feel sorry for the kids sad

Her Queen Bee attempt didn't work that well as we all jumped ship grin

That's the weird thing moody - usually they do. You have to provide a lot of evidence for DLA. I wonder whether she faked it. I know for ds1's last renewal they contacted his paediatrician & headteacher directly as well.

MrsDeVere Sat 25-May-13 19:27:35

I know someone who is like that saintly. I noticed she joined MN. I thought 'I'll give her a couple of weeks before she realises her stuff ain't going to work on here'
I haven't seen her around for a while.

She very much sticks to where her BS works and people won't pull her up.

She makes disabilities up. BIG ones. No one seems to question her. Its is bizarre but then I know her in RL and have a certain amount of medical knowledge and a lot of experience around disability. But I am still amazed she gets away with it.

I suppose people generally are too polite to question things.

I guess most people assume others behave in the way we ourselves would iykwim

C999875 Sat 25-May-13 19:33:12

I'm kind of torn T.B.H I mean my initial thoughts were :
1 why punish these children for their mother's sins.
2 Where will they go are they going to be separated or together. I would imagine with there being so many they will be separated,
3 That said though parents cannot expect to commit crimes and the law to say "Oh that's fine do what you like, you wont be punished as you have children.
Is 4 years not a tad too much. When you consider Disgusting rapists do not get much longer that that.

CAF275. Fair enough you have no sympathy for Mrs Webber and why should you but what about her children they are as innocent as everyone else they didn't tell their mum to commit benefit fraud. xxx

mrsjay Sat 25-May-13 19:37:10

small intenet forums <shudder> they are a breeding ground for over bearing pushy women who love to lord over people and feel v v important I had to leave 1 it was just too much

digerd Sat 25-May-13 20:25:01

mrsjay I too can't stand women like that and I know too many in RL.
< ditto "shudder>. Some are formidable.

Cocoabells Sat 25-May-13 21:41:36

I have to say I would live to know how she got away with it. I claim for my son who has spina bifida and they wrote to consultants, gp and school!!!!!

As for her going to prison I have to say if she is willing to lie about her children so much would they not be better off without her?

PearlyWhites Sat 25-May-13 22:12:02

To be fair juniper dla is not supposed to provide you with an income even if your dc needs mean you have to give up work to care for them. Dla is purely for your dc care/ mobility needs.

scottishmummy Sat 25-May-13 22:32:15

netted £10k month,private education for kids,dance studio at home
no I don't feel this elicits any sympathy. it was fraud on huge scale
this wasn't hand to mouth eke out existence.greedy woman

scottishmummy Sat 25-May-13 22:40:29

is this a gender bias for you op?would you feel same about a man?
the really sad thing is that genuine parents have and do struggle with a oppressive system

Lazyjaney Sat 25-May-13 23:08:17

Point of the sentence is to deter others, not to cost in for this one case.

blackbox Sat 25-May-13 23:36:53

True PearlyWhites but DLA (at MRC or above) triggers carer's allowance, which in turn can mean you're eligible for income support (if you meet the other criteria) - which is a passported benefit for the housing benefit, council tax help, extra tax credits etc that she got. So getting the DLA in the first place can mean you get an income which allows you to survive if you have to give up work. I am a single mum with a child with ASD and he is too old for me to get income support as a single mum, but I continue to get it as a carer, which is just as well, as his needs means that I can't work at all.

I am staggered that this continued for so long and for so many children without triggering investigation tbh. We got DLA without consultant reports or the DWP contacting school, but that's because I sent a heavy package of reports and DS's statement. I wonder whether she actually faked the evidence as someone suggested above, or if she got genuine reports but faked the symptoms by reporting false ones to the consultants. I know that a lot of my reports were based on parental reporting - notifying the doctors about things that had happened at home with DS but not observed directly by them - so I suppose if the mum was calculating she could have read up about typical behaviours in ASD and said that's how her dc were behaving.

pinkballetflats Sat 25-May-13 23:44:22

Could be the best thing that's ever happened to them....the example she set is very wrong. If they were to grow up thinking overstepping boundaries to this extent was fine, how long would it be before they ruined their own lives by overstepping boundaries into crime?

If she was on forums for autism, was she continuing the lie? What was the point in that, seems extreme. Could it be that the children did have autism but she exaggerated some behaviours ?

PearlyWhites Sat 25-May-13 23:52:15

Black box ok had forgotten they had changed the ages for income support whilst caring for a child. Am glad you can still get income support it would be impossible for you to live on carers allowance. Which is a joke anyway, I don't bother claiming it for my dd because of it being means tested.

Mimishimi Sun 26-May-13 08:38:29

"so I suppose if the mum was calculating she could have read up about typical behaviours in ASD and said that's how her dc were behaving."

Her observing those behaviours is not enough for a diagnosis though. My DS has a significant speech delay/disorder and his SALT insisted we get him tested for autism because she was , and still is, adamant he is on the spectrum. We had him tested by an psychologist who specialises in diagnosing autism and he said that whilst those behaviours were there, he had many others (empathy, social eye contact, interaction etc) which meant that he could not, in good conscience, give him a diagnosis of autism , not even high - functioning. He did receive a PDD-NOS assessment from a developmental pediatrician after this though which meant we were able to access funding for his therapy. We had to fill out so many documents and nothing has ever been charged to the funding except his therapy sessions (eg we can't get money out to pay school fees etc and every session has to be signed off).

To achieve the levels of funding that she did, she would have had to intentionally falsify documents, possibly even forge signatures. She is not a good influence on her children - I dare say they might regard the next couple of years as a bit of a breather.

HollyBerryBush Sun 26-May-13 08:43:07

Well, I suppose I should do another thread, as it's tangent as usual grin but I cant think what I would BU about.

Alan Goldsack QC this morning has stated that children from criminal families should be removed and adopted out to prevent generational criminality.

Hypothetically, I can't say I disagree. There are an awful lot of children who deserve a decent up bringing, with decent moral standards.

However having said that, even adopted as babies, friends who have found their natural mothers are largely carbon copies of all their natural mothers worst bits. So that opens the whole nature V nurture debate.

MrsDeVere Sun 26-May-13 09:27:44

What a post to open on a Sunday morning.

Offensive and wrong on so many levels.

Jamillalliamilli Sun 26-May-13 09:52:42

Toughasoldboots that’s something that concerned me too, but they seized dvd’s showing the children from a young age holidaying and also not exhibiting autistic symptoms, as well as when performing, and no knowledge of problems from school.

To go through school these days with all the multi tasking, team building, learning objective ticking, and understanding examiner requirements, without encountering lots and lots of problems, and causing teachers difficulties, is highly unlikely, to the point of incredulity.

Saintly questioned if details and documents from other's lives were used.

I do some work with production skills provision workshops helping autistic children to learn to piece together the world, and acting to help them achieve and see they can fit into the world around them.

It has to be 1to 1 (or 2, even 3to1) It’s incredibly hard, exhausting, and very, very, challenging. If we get through with all of them just still there, that in itself is a massive success.

I don't want to say too much but it’s how I came across her, and her school with it’s brilliant little animation that mimics what we really do with autistic performers. Design pieces around difficulties, to create visual and audial flow.

You can find some of our performer’s profiles on the net, none of ours, we all do itr free, for them.

The point of ‘living the lie’ on forums, declaring yourself an ‘autism expert’ on profiles, teaching your children to act an role well, and becoming an education provider with a school with a ‘SN provision’ name and profile, but for NT children, are clear to me, but not all of them will have started out or been only for the purposes of intended fraud, but it’s what she's done with it all.

She says her children all have exceptionally difficult behaviours. They may well have had, and there may be a range of reasons for them, but none of the childhood dvd’s, photo’s, and school reports show them impacting in five different children’s lives? hmm

Like most parents of children with SN’s, our photo albums, holiday snaps, school photo’s, home school diaries, reports, are a mixture of a few cherished magic moments, lots of at best 'funny for the wrong reasons', and tbh lots of very sad, especially the absence of other children. sad

They may need explaining, but they tell their own painful story.

The judge called her very intelligent. I believe she has closely mimicked the real lives of others, and constructed a massive lie, but without suffering the reality of what it means to parent significantly challenged children.

xylem8 Sun 26-May-13 10:09:38

i wonder how she eventually goy caught out?

TheBigJessie Sun 26-May-13 10:19:56

However having said that, even adopted as babies, friends who have found their natural mothers are largely carbon copies of all their natural mothers worst bits. So that opens the whole nature V nurture debate.

Your anecdote is an anecdote, that can be be negated by my close knowledge of an adopted person, who is nothing like his birth mother.

Try getting a degree in statistics and a degree in psychology before making similar posts about actual human beings again. Then maybe they won't be so trolly and ignorant.

MoodyDidIt Sun 26-May-13 10:21:09

xylem yeah i wonder that

i bet someone grassed her up good

Jamillalliamilli Sun 26-May-13 10:21:55

Sorry, I forgot to say that one of the children is believed to have have some SN's and it's probably were a lot of this started.

MrsDeVere Sun 26-May-13 10:22:51

Perhaps she pushed it that bit further.
I hope she didn't apply to Family Fund and other charities.
Bloody woman.

mrsjay Sun 26-May-13 10:57:52

i wonder how she eventually goy caught out?

somebody probably got pissed off with her for 'something' and reported her, people who try and get away with things usually boast iyswim. although her kids were on BGT according to the article so maybe somebody thought oh who does she think she is her kids are meant to be disabled

She was raising money for the autistic society as well, I am so puzzled by all this.

MrsDeVere Sun 26-May-13 11:18:46

This is more than benefit fraud though surely?
It seems to be about ego and attention and power and her status as supermom.

I am sure she is a greedy fecker but this is more than just that.

Yes, I think you are spot on Mrsdevere , it is about being a local heroine battling through her family's struggles and becoming a spokesperson for autism. In her twisted mind, that gives her a level of importance and recognition.

mrsjay Sun 26-May-13 11:24:11

No it isn't just the money I agree with you mrsdevere it is the huge ego that probably drove her, as I said earlier an aspirational snob,

mrsjay Sun 26-May-13 11:24:43

* In her twisted mind, that gives her a level of importance and recognition.*

^ ^ this

Jamillalliamilli Sun 26-May-13 11:27:19

She probably did Mrs DV, she apparently listed 72 disabilities across the five of them, so rather more than pushing it a 'bit'. But 'Bloody woman' sums it up well.

I wouldn’t be surprised at random checks on unusual claims outing her.

I was getting a disability component within child tax credits, without either realising it was there, or knowing he should only get it if DLA was claimed.

I’d ticked yes to is your child disabled, and no to do you claim DLA.

I was then called up and asked the extent of my child’s disability, who’d diagnosed them (GOSH) and educational arrangements, (statemented) and why I didn’t claim DLA. I gave honest answers.

Each year I was asked if I had a disabled child and if I claimed DLA. Each year I answered yes, and no.

A few years later I was written to again asking me to come in for an interview and was asked the original questions about extent, education, and diagnosis again.

I gave the same answers and asked what was going on. I assumed someone had made another malicious report against me. There’s been a few. No, apparently there was an anomaly on my claim, but the interveiw had sorted it.

Later the same thing happened again, same questions. This time I was told the anomally was that a random check had picked up I was getting a benefit that should only have been triggered by claiming a different one, unless I'd lied to them.
They acknowledged they had no evidence other than that assumption, to suggest I had.

Because they had already checked a lot about him and me, including quite possibly spying on us (investigators sat in on one performance of four of AW’s children) and I gave the same answers to the same questions each time, sometimes several years apart, I was told I wouldn’t be accused of fraud, and just needed to pay back what I could rightly have had, but actually shouldn’t have been given.

I told them I’d struggle to do that in the time frame, and was told to now claim DLA to pay back TC's, but the knowledge of how much we must be being snooped on and how it could be misinterpreted left me feeling it was better for my d/s not to, even if I get in trouble through not having enough to pay it off.

Jamillalliamilli Sun 26-May-13 11:33:16

Tougasoldboots I think you and Mrs DV aren't wrong, but I think she might be quite a troubled person as well as a fraudster, tbh.

Yes, I think you are right justgetting, raising money for autism and some of the other things that she has said online made me wonder if she believed it herself ?

mrsjay Sun 26-May-13 11:43:38

but I think she might be quite a troubled person as well as a fraudster, tbh.

troubled in which way attention seeking doesn't really make a person troubled

Jamillalliamilli Sun 26-May-13 11:48:31

Toughas I don't think she really did, because of the way she's pitched her school, and used it different ways, and exactly when she has done what, (but maybe I'm a nasty cynic) and seperated and tied different things together, but I do think there may be an element of her coming to believe what she was saying at the time she was saying it IYSWIM.

mrsjay Sun 26-May-13 11:50:31

It isn't rare for people who lie to believe what they are saying they convince themselves that what they say is true that is how they justify it to themselves it is really bizarre

Jamillalliamilli Sun 26-May-13 11:51:17

No Mrs Jay more to do with her background and various relationships that make me question it than her fraudulent actions.

I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of the kids were originally diagnosed when very young. I know a few children who have done extraordinarily well & h

Bastard phone! Gone on to do very well and more or less 'lost' a diagnosis. But in that case you stop claiming. You don't repeatedly fill in DLA forms saying that your child can't do stuff that they can. Nor do you steal other people's stories & think they apply to your own life.

I mean ds1 needs help dressing. If left alone - as a teen - he'll appear wearing 8 year old ds3's t shirt & a dirty pair of trousers. Meanwhile ds2 - in his most recent professional performance - had five costume changes, 4 in 20 minutes. You can't do that if you need help dressing - needing help dressing indicates a very high level of need - it doesn't mean 'finds buttons a bit difficult'. (One of ds2's chaperones did make it her aim to teach him to do shoelaces grin - but that still doesn't count as help needed in planet DLA). Ds1 - in recept of higher rate DLA (which one of her kids must have been if she had a notability car) can't even WATCH ds2 perform in any of his professional shows, let alone take part.

She's a liar and a thief. She definitely stole money, and quite possibly other people's stories & ideas. I feel sorry for her kids but not her.

Justgetting I do wonder whether she began to believe it (or feel a sense of identity around having an autistic child). In the small autism forum I found her rude, abrasive & unpleasant but I didn't doubt that she had autistic kids. I did assume that the autistic ones weren't the West End performers though!!!

Oh & she did come across as very jealous of someone in the group who was fairly well known. So maybe she is desperate for fame (why? I suppose she has that now!) or something.

ithaka Mon 27-May-13 09:11:08

I more disgusted by the way she used and manipulated her children for her own ends than by the benefit fraud per se.

To abuse your children by making them lie and be complicit in your crimes in order to acquire personal luxuries is so sick and wrong, I can see why a jail sentence was seen as appropriate.

This is more than straight forward benefit fraud - she used her children and that is an abuse of trust that, in my opinion, warrants a custodial sentence.

Sallyingforth Mon 27-May-13 09:34:54

Agree with all the people who say the sentence was well deserved.

mrsjay Mon 27-May-13 09:48:26

she actually comes across as a spoiled brat just doing it all to get her own way, I know it goes deeper than brattish but you know what I mean

Jamillalliamilli Mon 27-May-13 11:24:57

Saintly I think that one's in their 20's by now?

That’s what hurts reading it all. What d/s can't do is destroyong what he can. He can dress himself, eventually. But the choice of in what, has to be made the night before and checked for appropriateness.

He uses a list and prompts to try and help him dress.

Things still go on wrong layer first, upside down, inside out, madly buttoned, wrong footed, have to be tried several times, sometimes rescued, minor injuries, rage and frustration contained and dealt with, and the process takes over an hour and often ends in screaming, and him fit for nothing.
Lot’s of clothes get wrecked, socks live a month because he forces them on so hard. Shoes eight to twelve weeks and I’m constantly replacing sleeves, bias binding trouser seams, glueing shoes, and repairing everything.

He used to not care what he looked like but he’s gone the opposite way.

He still can’t manage his own hair or shaving independently. Not helped by facial hair growing down on one side round and pointed upwards on the other! With help, it’s three tortured hours to wash, dress, and leave, without eating, inevitably running late and horribly stressed. Without help he’s usually hours late.

From boot camp to leaving him to fend for himself, everyone could in their minds, "sort him out". I've done something wrong or not tried enough. (yes we honestly have tried star charts.)

The huge effort and being screamed at every morning leaves me exhausted. Then everyone tells me how fantastic he is and how he's come up with some great idea, and what a great future he has, and I smile and nod and agree that he's amazing, and quietly think yes, but when you realise the struggle he has just to get dressed or stay on top of each day, you won’t realise it's the flip side and help him so he can achieve those ideas, you'll all move on, and none of it will actually happen.

Jamillalliamilli Mon 27-May-13 11:35:20

Ithaka and that's the point some of those of us who have children with extreme spikey profiles have already been seen as possibly manipulating our children and making them helpless for some perverted end, because it's so much easier than accepting they might be incredibly able at some things but have massive basic deficits elsewhere, and it really hurts and is very damaging for the child.

She's apparently added another reason why we might be doing it to the accuser’s arsenal, so I know it’s not a great reason, but the fact she’s been imprisoned for it hopefully sends out a message that on top of the damage we'd be doing to our children, we really would have a lot to lose if their problems weren’t all painfully true. Maybe that's a bit warped of me, but it's how I feel.

Yes I think in their 20's as well just, maybe 2 of them.

I think really she's just an out & out cheat. I'm surprised she got away with it for so long & yes I agree Ithaca. I suppose if they do have some issues (or did) then what she's done (morally?) is even worse. It really doesn't help those with kids who appear high functioning but have difficulties getting through the day (that doesn't affect us as ds1 doesn't appear high functioning but I have friends in that situation who already have enough trouble from Daily Mail types.

manicinsomniac Mon 27-May-13 21:49:24

munchausen's syndrome by proxy? (clutching at straws!)

or stage mum gone mad.

Dreadful story. She does deserve jail but I feel so sorry for those kids. They may well not be better off without her. And they'll be losing all those opportunities they've got so used to which they never had the right to. Soul destroying.

scottishmummy Mon 27-May-13 23:05:40

oh stop it.stop looking for feeble it so hard to fathom?greed
she is greedy,manipulative woman who netted £10k month,kids private school
what is sad is the countless many who genuinely struggle under an imposing system

alotofthetimes Tue 28-May-13 04:39:49

I do think she should be made to pay it back as well though.

She will most likely get out in 2 years and then I think she should be given community service work as well to pay back the money. Though it is likely to take more than 20 years to pay back that sum!

I agree with the posters saying that she is a bad influence around her children. This is a big family and they have grown up seeing her do this and if she had received a lesser punishment then it is more likely that they may consider defrauding the system as well. I think that her going to jail is an excellent deterrent to her own children.

alotofthetimes Tue 28-May-13 04:59:59

I just googled her name and found a fundrasing page with 'her story' about being mum to autistic children on it. I cannot believe she lied about this this. Just shocking! [shocked] Those poor children, I cannot believe what they must feel about it all. Do they think they have actually have autism or were they told to lie about it as well?!

They may have had autism. Despite it being a 'lifelong condition' I do know children who were diagnosed & have gone on to become incredibly high functioning & lose the diagnosis. I know some children dxd the same time as ds1 who now need no support in school, who will live independent lives who show very little signs of their early difficulties. At 2 they were pretty indistinguishable from ds1, who is severely autistic & has never developed speech. So she may not have lied about that (although I'm not sure it's helpful to continue referring to the dx if your children have effectively lost it).

DLA isn't about your diagnosis it's about how much help & care you need -& the application form asks very detailed questions about that - that's where she definitely lied.

Jamillalliamilli Tue 28-May-13 09:44:34

Saintly what you’ve just said is exactly why children didn’t used to be diagnosed young, unless they were very clearly badly affected on many levels.
The incidence of properly diagnosed children recovering from it or growing out of it was very low too, and the constant assumption that if only enough star charts, crystals, or chelation had been used by the parent, everything would be just fine now, was nothing like as bad.

The collision of those wanting to get intervention in early, in case, and those wanting it to become a high incidence condition to remove funding, has done no favours for those who ‘look/sound ok’ but aren’t, and has muddied a lot of waters leaving the way open for that sort of abuse.
I agree she's lied knowingly on the forms.

Manic it’s not MBP, No parent with MBP who believed their children cripplingly terrified of crowds would be sending them alone on train and tube. They’d be insisting on accompanying them everywhere were crowds might be, while the child wondered why!
I feel for the children too, but I’m pretty sure they lost a lot back in 2009 when she was first busted so it won’t be as awful a shock at this point.

JakeBullet Tue 28-May-13 10:53:44

It's because of people like this woman that many of us have a hard time. My DS is autistic, it was diagnosed at 7, it is high functioning in that he has speech and on initially meeting him you would be excused for not realising. He gets middle rate care and lower rate mobility (no "free" car was a £250 one from eBay grin) and it basically allows me to be a SAHM and support him with his extra needs. It is helping him massively and he has many less issues as a result of having me around.

But due to people like this woman it is much easier now to wonder about children like DS and to wonder about ME.

tungthai Tue 28-May-13 12:05:05

How did she get away with it for so long?


pinkballetflats Tue 28-May-13 12:40:34

What I'm not overjoyed about is that the few cases of hugely taking the piss like this woman gives people who don't want to think too hard to say that people who are on benefits are wasters/lazy/fraudsters etc etc.

I've got no problem with her getting a jail sentence - not one bit. Sad for her kids, but just because you have children doesn't excuse one for behaving badly and breaking the rules: she has a brain, obviously, she should have thought about the consequences; she had plenty of time to.

blueshoes Tue 28-May-13 13:00:06

The last thing people like her need to be incentivised to do is have more children. Children are not a get-out-of-jail-free card.


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