A FORMER Halesowen seamstress with savings of £140,000 stitched up taxpayers by claiming more than £35,000 in benefits, a court heard.

Janet Greenway picked up her "small fortune" in gifts and bequests from people who held her in "high regard" but she continued to plunder the system, said Recorder Stephen Linehan QC.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told the 64-year-old carried on the fraud over an eight year period.

Mr Linehan said the public would be angered and outraged by what she had done and told her: "Your conduct over such an extended period thoroughly deserves a sentence of imprisonment."

Greenway, of Pippin Avenue, falsely claimed £25,089 in housing and council tax benefits and a further £10,577 in pension credits after telling the Department of Work and Pensions she had just £4,475 in savings.

David Bennett, prosecuting, said the amount was well below the £10,000 permitted limit but at one stage Greenway had more than £140,000 stashed away in gifts and bequests.

Greenway admitted failing to notify the department of a change in her circumstances and also submitting false documentation.

She was given a 12 month jail term suspended for two years, placed on supervision for a year and ordered to pay £340 costs.

Michael Brooks, defending, said the claims had not been fraudulent from the outset.

He said the pensioner, who was suffering from significant health problems, had paid back all the money.